Mumbai Diary page: Saturday scene

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

True love is made of this
Chocolate, roses or filial devotion? Take your pick, as February 14 is being heavily marketed as Matru Pitru Pujan Divas or Parents’ Worship Day. The website, which says it is inspired by Asaram Bapu, advocates that people (of course, they refer to them as “children” but there does not appear to be an age limit) should spend the day worshipping their parents.

A hoarding advertising Matru Pitru Pujan Divas. Pic/Chirag Waghela
A hoarding advertising Matru Pitru Pujan Divas. Pic/Chirag Waghela

Instructions for doing so begin with: “Make parents sit on a clean and high seat. The children should put a mark of vermillion, tilak on their parents’ foreheads.” Elaborate other details follow, in general indicating that devotion should be manifested and love propagated from both sides.

“On this day, the children should bow to their parents and the parents should caress their children affectionately who in turn should embrace their parents. This will foster true love. May the children see divinity in their parents, and the parents behold divinity in their children.” Which is all fine but why just on one day? Why can’t children and parents love and respect each other every day of their lives? (Hint: Stop squabbling over property and money, to start with!)

Oh, those capitalists!
Meanwhile, in far-away Japan, a group of men has initiated a backlash against Valentine’s Day. These are not the average jilted lover or spurned spouse it is a group called Kakuhido, which translates literally as the Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Women Are Not Attracted To, also known in English as the Unpopular Revolutionary League.

They will be marching in Tokyo’s popular Shibuya district today, in protest against “oppressive chocolate capitalists”. While we chuckle, let us nevertheless hope that the action helps in some way to stem the relentless tide of commercialism around the day.

Chocolates and flowers are overpriced just for February 14, while heart-shaped everything commands unrealistic currency. And in the midst of it all, real love sometimes takes a back seat. Then what about those who have no one to share the overpriced chocolates with? In Shanghai, China, sly single internet users crowdfunded a campaign to buy up all the odd-numbered seats at a V-Day screening of a romantic big-ticket movie.

The organiser of the stunt posted online: “Want to see a movie on Valentine’s Day? Sorry, you’ll have to sit separately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Give us singles a chance.” Sneaky, but maybe Mumbai’s anti-Valentine’s protestors could take a leaf out of their book instead of shouting and fighting on the streets.

Protest is no walk in the park
But you can make a picnic out of it. In fact, it may well be a fitting means of protesting the municipality’s intention of cutting down trees in Aarey Colony on a mass scale.

Trees in addition to providing life-giving oxygen and other benefits to our world are great for sitting under and relaxing. Friends of trees are planning to head to Aarey Colony, Goregaon, in large numbers on Sunday morning, to picnic there and show their support for our floral friends.

Just make sure that you take along an empty carrier bag to gather your picnic rubbish in, so you can dispose of it ethically. It would be a bit counter-productive if a pro-tree protest ends up being anti-environment in the form of garbage, right?

Trying to set things right
In an echo of slain musician John Lennon’s song Imagine, a petition on the site seeks to make the world a better place (we can hear you humming Heal The World now).

As the petitioner, who is based in Sydney, Australia, says, “This is an unusual petition because it is not directed at any person, government, or entity. It is directed at the human race. The petition seeks to garner signatures from fellow compassionate humans from all walks of life who are hoping for a better world, free from religious or politically inspired violence.”

Outlining a point-by-point Covenant of Peace, the petition indeed envisages a world free from hate and oppression, which is kind to all, and respects everyone. Oh, what Utopia! Yet, it would be a dream come true, and so we have gone and signed it. You may say we’re dreamers...

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