Like every year, students from different colleges of Delhi University will gather on Valentine’s Day at Hindu College to worship the “virgin tree”. However, this year, while many will flock to keep up the ‘tradition’, two different student groups will stand guard to stop students from the ‘puja’. Worshipping the tree is a tradition followed for several years, where boys living at the college hostel decorate the tree with balloons and condoms. Every year, a female actress is selected, her poster stuck on the tree and ‘blessings’ sought to find their ideal partner. The actress is christened as Damdami Mai.
The group Pinjra Tod, which has been fighting discriminatory rules at women’s hostels, is opposing the ‘tradition’, calling it a “just another trope which objectifies women”. The group, in a statement, said the event is about shaming women and encourages fetish around women. “This is no innocent humour, but a contributor to rape culture, which also slut shames women who assert their sexuality, and blames survivors of abuse for ‘asking for it’. The organisers of this tradition, by means of repeating this act year after year and passing the baton to their juniors to continue their legacy, lay false claim on arguments about safe sex to couch their own misogynistic ideals and objectification of women that they claim to worship,” the group said in a statement.
With the girl’s hostel opening this year, students opposing the tradition have decided to introduce a new ritual — electing a ‘Love Guru’, the male counterpart of the Damdami Mai. Also among those opposing this ‘tradition’ is a third-year student of Ramjas College, who is organising an event ‘Pyar Ek Dhokha Hai’ — made popular by the comedy group AIB.
The event is being organised at different campuses across the country. “This is an event for people who are not in a relationship. Through the event we are only portraying that falling in love could lead people into trouble. The virgin tree is the symbol of love, so we are opposing it and saving people from falling into it,” the student said. He added that he is “shocked with the response on the event’s Facebook page”. People have been asked to come up with creative slogans, and gather at the tea stall near Ramjas College.