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Students divided over 'worship' of 'virgin tree' at Hindu College

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The customary "worship" of a "virgin tree" at Delhi University's Hindu College on February 14 has divided students of the university with some in favor of continuing with tradition while others objecting to the 'misogynistic' and 'patriarchal' tradition.

For years, the tree has been a symbol of love for many students, who offer a puja to it on February 14 every year, in the belief that doing so will lead them to "land a girlfriend within six months."

Students from the college and boys from the hostel surround the "Virgin tree" and worship a hypothetical Bollywood actor- 'Damdami Mai' (goddess and the most desirable actress of Bollywood chosen by senior students). They also decorate the trees with balloons and posters of film actress.

"It is a very old tradition and over the years it has become an identity and culture of our college. It was started in the1953. All students, especially newcomers want to witness this Puja. 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 the sexually transmitted disease, HIV and sex among the students," said Ankita Biswas , student of Hindu college.

Some female students held a public discussion to raise objections on the V-tree ceremony saying it objectifies women.

One student from the political science department, Siddhant said, "It is nothing but an attempt to politicise the whole issue. Every year we celebrate this Puja. We wait for this event for whole year. Students, who are affiliated with the left student wings are against it. They want to ban us from celebrating it, but they themselves say whatever they want to in the name of freedom of speech and expression no matter how obscene that would be."

Deepika, student member of Internal complaint Committee (against sexual harassment) of Hindu College and Vice president of women development cell of the college claimed, "the Aarti which is sung by the male students has lewd lyrics describing female physique which is highly objectionable. We can't let it continue in the name of tradition."

She further said, "The practice which is followed in the name of tradition declares women as a mere object."

Another student of Sanskrit department, Shyam, shared similar concerns by asserting that it is incorrect to continue with such a practice in the name of tradition.

"There should not be any tradition which makes female students uncomfortable in the university environment. How can students promote misogyny and sexual aggression in the college? The Aarti which they sing has nothing remotely to do with creating awareness on HIV, STDs and sex remotely. Moreover in the era of science and technology promoting such superstitions are condemnable," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 22:41 IST