How Are Young Indians Celebrating Valentine’s Day?
How Are Young Indians Celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Love, Peer-pressure, and Instagram: A Valentine's Day Tale

Valentine’s Day is a little cringe, but the good kind. The courageous kind where you aren’t embarrassed to celebrate perhaps the most vulnerable part of your life in public. Lately, though, the day has been fogged by capitalism’s heavy breathing with countless restaurant discounts spamming your feed, making you feel like the worst partner in the world if you aren’t spending enough dollars.


But is that how young Indians are celebrating the day? For Porus and Ava who have been together for two months and are in a long-distance relationship (Doha-Mumbai), the plan is simple, “We’re gonna do a virtual dinner on Valentine’s Day weekend because the actual day is a weekday and we both work,” says Ava. For others like the 27-year-old media professional, Heerak, who has been seeing his partner for over 2.5 years, the plan for the big day is again low-key, stating: “I don’t have anything planned because work commitments are unpredictable. However, I wouldn't mind going for a dessert date in the evening.”


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Both Ava’s and Heerak’s way of celebrating the day has been somewhat of a norm if you happen to be in the working demographic age. While ad agencies will have you believe that today is all about big gestures, that is seldom ever true. For instance, a 25-year-old anonymous law professional from Pune who chose to go by the name of ‘Akash’ shares that for him and his partner of two years, the day is just another normal day, “The girlfriend and I had a nice stroll last time so even doing nothing with her on V-Day was great."


On the other side of things, some young singles in the country are quietly watching Instagram stories of couples, secretly wanting to hate them. Such is the occasion that brings somewhat of peer pressure on those who do not have anyone to celebrate the day with. But things though, appear to be changing. For Kabeer, a 27-year-old consumer account lead in public relations, the day feels quite indifferent, stating: “Mostly, I find it cringe when couples have some extreme V-day plans and make it a social media moment. I think it could be a cute day for couples to do something to celebrate their companionship.”


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For others like Tanvi, a 26-year-old media professional from Mumbai, today shouldn’t be about having expectations, “I think that it’s okay to have a day earmarked for celebrating love, whether it’s with a romantic partner or with your friends or just the concept of love. But I think it should be up to people whether they participate or not, not an expectation.”


For some, the day is also about celebrating self-love. For instance, Bengaluru-based Nikita Verma, who works as a communications lead at a leading two-wheeler, today is about “having absolutely zero plans. I mostly used to meet my girls in the past to celebrate Galentine’s Day instead, but now that they both are married, they have other plans. My other single friends have no interest in this day at all. I will probably go shopping for a bit and do some TLC.” Similarly for Tanvi, it’s more about the festivities, “I have nothing planned yet, but I’d like to dress cute and go to one of my favourite karaoke bars with my friends. Sing some romantic songs and enjoy the vibes. I enjoy a nice festive atmosphere.”


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So who’s exactly feeling the pressure of doing something? As Heerak puts it, “It ideally depends on the understanding between a couple. Some travel across cities to spend the day together while for some it's just another day. I would mostly be in the latter category.” For Ava, it is “a capitalist holiday and neither of us is into being told when we can be romantic.” 


Having been on both sides of the aisle, the pressure to do something does feel heavier when you’re single. The Instagram algorithm and the spam in your email are designed to exploit this feeling, after all. But just like the changing tide, folks are getting smarter, looking beyond the feeling of “Should I be doing something today?"


As ‘D,’ a Deputy Manager at Ashoka University, puts it, “I do not encourage today. The societal pressure to have a partner on this day to be made to feel special. Or just the pressure to do something and not be alone. Singles make plans and celebrate Galentines’s out of FOMO. But it should be fine if you choose to not celebrate and go to be or not do things/celebrate in the way society dictates/expects.” Kabeer too shares a similar thought, “When you're single, it feels unfair. But I don't see it as an expectation since there is a choice for many to not celebrate it. I don't know about the people in their early 20s but people closer to my age do it out of choice.“ 


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As far as how single folks feel others celebrating the day, Nikita perhaps perfectly captures the sentiment, ‘It’s nice to see couples celebrate it as a day of love, but it’s sad to also realise that some people might just only be celebrating this one day to go over and beyond in their expression of love.” Elaborating on the social media pressure, Tanvi adds: “It’s sweet to see people dressed up and being cute and taking pictures at whatever meal or activity they’re going for, but when it’s very obvious that it’s being done ‘for the gram’ I roll my eyes and move on.” Her thoughts are similar to what Kabeer feels too, “If I see them going overboard on social media, I will find it amusing more than anything. But there are stories of couples you hear sometimes going for a cute date or a vacation on V-day, which I find cute.” 


So, how should you exactly be feeling today? Or rather, how should you exactly be celebrating this feeling? As a couple, Akash suggests to “Just enjoy it if you can. If you can't, then that's fine too, enjoy any other day in your relationship. The occasion doesn't matter, the people do”. Ava echoes the sentiment, sharing, “Be true to yourselves, and celebrate it the way you like, if at all. And don’t forget, Galentines is way better.” 

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