On Valentine’s day last year, my Facebook feed exploded with Pakistani memes that, on the one hand, used Islamic texts to criticize the day as unIslamic and, on the other, poked fun at the religious opposition to the holiday.
When I conducted interviews with Pakistani women in Karachi over the summer, I expected Valentine’s day to be a salient event for my participants. I did find religious resistance to Valentine’s Day. The more religious-minded participants were likely to say things like: “St. Valentine is remembered for fathering illegitimate children, so the day is sinful.”
Less religious women, however, seemed surprised that I even asked about it. “I can’t remember what I did,” they would say, or they would criticize it as “cheesy” or “too commercial.” A few respondents asked: “Why does there have to be one day for love? Every day should be a celebration of love.”
Based on the media, I was expecting a contest between people who embraced Valentine’s Day and people who rejected it, but I only found one side of the debate: the rejection. There didn’t seem to be a large group of women who embraced it. Among those who didn’t outright reject it, I discovered only disinterest.
All this suggests that the push to make Valentine’s Day a thing in Pakistan is more about capitalism and the globalization of Western norms and practices, than it is about a grassroots desire for such a celebration. It is the marketers, mall managers, and restaurant owners that seem most interested in Valentine’s Day. I originally thought of this as a battle between the religious and secular members of the society, but it seems to be, instead, a resistance by some to efforts of companies to find one more way to make money.
Fauzia Husain is a PhD student in sociology at the University of Virginia. She is currently studying globalization through an exploration of Pakistani women’s narratives about love.
Bill R — February 12, 2015
I "love" capitalism.
But magining that western culture would take root in Pakistan is just so disturbing isn't it?
Love, Business, and Valentine’s Day in Pakistan - Treat Them Better — February 13, 2015
[…] Love, Business, and Valentine’s Day in Pakistan […]
habbo — February 13, 2015
certain age group inhabiting metropolis exposed to social media who celeberate their birthdays,always clad in modern/western attire ,go on dates always update their status on social media but still consider it all these Jewish conspiracy to lead them astray or drift them away from their values and ethos but what are ethos and values under changing circumstances.
Hollybelle — February 13, 2015
The observation that Valentines (and for that matter) any other "religious" holiday (Easter, Christmas) is a viral insertion for the intent of perpetrating capitalism is sadly true. One secret about the glories of capitalism that is often with-held is that it requires an every increasing marketplace to endure. When capitalism runs out of frontiers to conquer and make into vassal states, it begins to feed on itself in the form of "forced gifting" and creating false internal economies (sub prime loan packages). Sadly the original focus of Valentines day (ala the Roman festival) is lost, and it has just become a feeding fest for businesses . It also happens to be so structured to target women as the marketplace. And its tragic that it is being forced on non Western peoples as a marketing tool. Maybe its time for capitalism to admit "defeat" as did Russian Communism ( true communism is still taught and practised by the true followers of Jesus of Nazareth who are few and far between as even our own religions have been corrupted by the capitalists) . I certainly hope that the new call from some scientists to reach out to other planets is not accompanied by a "manifest destiny" concept that rolled out a holocaust of its own to conquer new markets.Maybe the time has come for a new "economic idea" , Hey I got it ! Sustainablility !
News Round-Up | (F)Emory1836 — February 18, 2015
[…] In the wake of Valentine’s Day, read about religion and consumerism in Pakistan: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2015/02/12/is-there-a-globalization-of-commodified-love/. […]
Οι Απόκριες χωρίς παιδιά και τα Χριστούγεννα χωρίς Χριστό επικρατούν στην Ασία, με μοναδικές τοπικές ανατροπές - SeriyPelicula — November 8, 2022
[…] Στο Πακιστάν, θρησκευτικές ομάδες απωθήθηκαν κατά των εορτασμών για την Ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου. Μερικοί το απέρριψαν επίσης για το χυδαία εμπορευματοποίηση της αγάπης. […]
Halloween without kids and Christmas without Christ take hold in Asia, with uniquely local twists - Inergency — November 9, 2022
[…] In Pakistan, religious groups have pushed back against Valentine’s Day celebrations. Some have also rejected it for the crass commodification of love. […]
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