Stu­dents call for end to ‘ vir­gin tree’ puja

HINDU COL­LEGE Held on Valen­tine's Day ev­ery year, stu­dents wor­ship a fe­male Bol­ly­wood ac­tor as ‘Dam­dami mai’

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - METRO - Fa­reeha Iftikhar fa­[email protected]­dig­i­tal.in

NEWDELHI: Stu­dents from sev­eral Delhi Uni­ver­sity (DU) col­leges have raised ob­jec­tions over Hindu Col­lege’s cus­tom­ary ‘Vir­gin Tree Puja’, which is or­gan­ised ev­ery year on Fe­bru­ary 14.

A group of stu­dents from the col­lege have dubbed the prac­tice as “misog­y­nis­tic” and have de­manded that prac­tice to be abol­ished.

On Mon­day, stu­dents said they are go­ing to or­gan­ise a pub­lic dis­cus­sion to find pos­si­bil­i­ties of mak­ing the event (which is held to cel­e­brate Valen­tine’s Day) ‘gen­der in­clu­sive.’

Ev­ery year on Fe­bru­ary 14, Valen­tine’s Day, stu­dents from Hindu Col­lege’s boys’ hos­tel flock around the Vir­gin Tree (V-shaped tree) on the col­lege cam­pus. They wor­ship a Bol­ly­wood fe­male ac­tor as Dam­dami Mai (god­dess), with her poster stuck to the tree.

The stu­dents of the col­lege also dec­o­rate the tree with con­doms. The rit­ual is be­lieved to bring ‘good luck’ with the stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate in it ‘fall­ing in love within the next six months and los­ing their vir­gin­ity in the next one year’.

Ac­cord­ing to the group of protest­ing stu­dents, who call them­selves the Hindu Col­lege Pro­gres­sive Front, the “V-tree Puja” is noth­ing but ‘ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion of women’.

“One of the first things you will find when you search Hindu Col­lege on the in­ter­net is its pop­u­lar­ity for the an­nual V-tree Puja. Some stu­dents think that the puja is an im­por­tant tra­di­tion and part of legacy of the col­lege and hence must be con­tin­ued. But, not all tra­di­tions are meant to be con­tin­ued. If we al­low an ag­gres­sive and un­healthy tra­di­tion on sex­u­al­ity in a uni­ver­sity, then we give ac­cep­tance to a cul­ture that only al­lows the ex­pres­sion of a sin­gle idea of sex­u­al­ity with­out car­ing about who is ex­cluded,” said the group, in a state­ment.

The group, along with the col­lege’s Women De­vel­op­ment Cell, Ev­ery year on Fe­bru­ary 14, Valen­tine’s Day, stu­dents from Hindu Col­lege’s boys’ hos­tel flock around a Vir­gin Tree (V-shaped tree) on the col­lege cam­pus.

Stu­dents wor­ship a Bol­ly­wood fe­male ac­tor as Dam­dami Mai (god­dess), with her poster stuck to the tree

Since last year, a pho­to­graph of a male ac­tor, who is wor­shipped

will on Mon­day hold a pub­lic dis­cus­sion — legacy or ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion — to reach a con­sen­sus on the is­sue.

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

Stu­dents from Delhi School of Eco­nomics and St Stephen’s Col­lege have also ex­tended sup­port to the pro­test­ers.

“At a time when women across uni­ver­si­ties are fight­ing to right­fully oc­cupy spa­ces in the uni­ver­sity and to change the na­ture of as Love Guru, has also been at­tached to the tree

The stu­dents also dec­o­rate the tree with con­doms

The an­nual rit­ual at Hindu Col­lege is be­lieved to bring ‘good luck’, with the stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate in it ‘fall­ing in love within the next six months and los­ing their vir­gin­ity in the next one year’, stu­dents of the col­lege said.

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 in a state­ment.

Teli Venkatesh, pres­i­dent of col­lege’s boys’ hos­tel, how­ever, said that there was noth­ing “misog­y­nist” about the prac­tice.

“It’s a part of the col­lege’s legacy. How­ever, we are meet­ing for a dis­cus­sion and will try to take women stu­dents on board. We can come up with ideas to make it an in­clu­sive prac­tice,” he said.

SOURCED

Last year, ac­tors Jac­que­line Fer­nan­dez and Ran­veer Singh were la­belled ‘Dam­dami Mai’ and ‘Love Guru’, re­spec­tively.

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