Pupils of the Hindu College in India's capital are divided over some male students' worshipping of the "virgin tree" on Valentine's Day in the hope of getting a girlfriend within a matter of months, the ANI news agency reports.
Hindu College, which is very proud of it’s ‘Virgin tree’ celebration, is at it again. Apparently, this ‘ritual’ holds a special place in the hearts of Hinduites, who seem to be amused by the visibly sexual representation of Damdami mai. @rampalarjun @VishalBhardwaj— Pinjra Tod (@PinjraTod) February 11, 2019
The tree, located within the college campus, is proving to be controversial, with some students branding the practice "misogynistic" and "patriarchal".
Some female students are opposed to the "V-tree ceremony", calling it an objectification of women.
The V-Tree ‘puja’ itself is ridden in a Brahmanical and casteist notion of prayer and reward- pray to the Virgin tree to lose your virginity. This mock ritual actually ends up finding itself enacting the figure of ‘male priest’ ordained by Gods to perform the ‘ceremony.’ pic.twitter.com/vtmVB83obV— Pinjra Tod (@PinjraTod) February 12, 2019
"It is a very old tradition and over the years it has become an identity and culture of our college. It was started way back in 1953. All students, especially newcomers want to witness this Puja [worship]. However, this year a few students are seeking to get it banned as they say it represents male desperation, aggression and their misogynistic attitude towards women. But the truth is that it is commemorated to spread awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and sex education among the students," Ankita Biswas, a female student at the college who favours the continuation of the practice, said.
"The practice which is followed in the name of tradition declares women as a mere object," she said.
Meanwhile, Shyam, a male student, expressed his opposition to the practice. "There should not be any tradition which makes female students [are left] uncomfortable in the university environment. How can students promote misogyny and sexual aggression in the college?" he questioned. "The Aarti [worship song] which they sing has nothing to do with creating awareness on [about[ HIV, STDs and sex education. Moreover in the era of science and technology promoting such superstitions are condemnable," he stated.