While the world is out celebrating Valentine’s Day with their loved ones on February 14, some students from Delhi University’s Hindu College take part in the college’s customary ‘Virgin Tree Puja’ instead.

Dubbed as misogynistic, sexist, and patriarchal, this practice has divided students from Hindu College with some in favour of continuing this tradition while others have demanded that the practice is abolished.

Students believe that worshipping Damdami Mai (that’s what they call the goddess) brings good luck, with the students participating in it falling in love within the next six months and losing their virginity in the next one year.

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Damdami Mai: New God In Town?

“The Virgin Puja is a very old tradition and over the years it has become an identity and culture of our college. It was started in the 1953. All students, especially newcomers want to witness this Puja,” said a Hindu college student.

Every year students from the college and boys from the hostel flock around the ‘Virgin Tree’ (a V-shaped tree) in the college campus.

They worship a Bollywood female actor known as Damdami Mai (goddess), with her poster stuck on the virgin tree. But since last year, a photograph of a male actor, who is worshipped as a “Love Guru” is also being attached to the tree.

But this again received backlash, with students calling it a benevolent gesture of silencing the previous backlash by demonstrating ‘equality’ by generously ‘allowing’ even women to select a male actor as their very own “Love Guru” for worship.

The tree is also decorated using balloons and condoms.

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Yeah. Condoms grow on trees in hindu. #virgintree

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A Means of Spreading Awareness About Sexually Transmitted Diseases, HIV and Sex Education: Students of Hindu College

While some students argued to put a complete ban on this tradition, calling it a sign of male desperation, aggression and misogynistic attitude towards women, others lauded it for spreading awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and sex education.

But after many people expressed their objections regarding the practice, students of the college on Monday, said that they are going to organize a public discussion to find out the possibility of making the event ‘gender exclusive’.

We will be holding a public meeting where students and teachers are invited to express their views on the V-tree Puja,” Yogita, a member of the progressive front told HT.

But to the misery of the students, the voices seeking to end this issue ended with the dissenting voices of women students once again being drowned out to screams of ‘bharat mata ki jai‘, ‘puja hogi‘ and ‘vande mataram‘ by male students.

They were adamant on holding their beloved puja, making it amply clear the close connections between the adamant proponents of this ‘tradition’ and growing Hindutva forces on campus according to a post on the Facebook page of Pinjra Tod.

As a result of this, women students across different colleges will be organising and gathering in a protest on 14th February at 10:30 am in Hindu College where they would be trying to take down the V-Tree.

Students from St. Stephen’s College and Delhi School of Economics have also extended their support to the students in combating this movement.

“At a time when women across universities are fighting to rightfully occupy spaces in the university and to change the nature of these dominantly masculine spaces, we condemn the practise of Virgin Tree Puja. We implore the Boys Hostel Union and the Students Union put a stop to it immediately,” said members of gender study cell of Stephen’s College to HT.

All the despicable excuses for an opportunity to grade and rate women according to their appearance is something which is directly aimed at disrespecting women.

However, organizers claim that there is nothing sexist in this and all the noise is only politicizing something which is done completely for fun.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: India Times, Hindustan Times, Times Now

Find the blogger at @AarooshJairath

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