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Beyond the Sentiments

Rethinking Mother’s Day in a Commercialized World

By Priyabrat Biswal

Amidst the flurry of Mother’s Day messages adorning today’s newspapers, I couldn’t help but ponder: is this flurry of sentiments truly the best and only way to honour our mothers? It seemed to me that beneath the surface of these well-intentioned tributes lay a subtle desire for recognition, akin to entering a lottery in hopes of a win.

Reflecting on my own upbringing, I realized that concepts like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day were foreign to us in our childhood and college years. These were imports from Western cultures, infiltrating our Indian society through the forces of globalization and the malleable mindset of the younger generation, keen to emulate Western trends, even at their most superficial.

Capitalizing on this cultural shift, certain media outlets seize the opportunity to solicit messages – for a fee – from individuals on such occasions, tantalizing them with promises of prizes. Sadly, many fall victim to these advertisements, failing to recognize the commercial underpinnings or consider alternative expressions of love, care, and gratitude for their mothers. Meanwhile, retailers rake in profits from the sale of cards, gifts, and assorted merchandise.

The origins of Mother’s Day, as conceived by American social activist Anna Jarvis in the wake of her mother’s passing in 1905, were noble: a day to honour the selfless sacrifices of mothers. Yet, Jarvis herself grew disillusioned as the day became commercialized, morphing into a consumerist spectacle that lined the pockets of merchants rather than fulfilling its original intent. She fervently campaigned to remove it from the holiday calendar, a stark contrast to its eventual recognition by the US government in 1914, thanks in part to her relentless advocacy.

Indian actress and former Miss World 2017, Manushi Chhillar, made a poignant statement during the Miss World competition’s final Q&A round. When asked which profession deserved the highest salary, her resounding answer emphasized the invaluable contribution of mothers: “…I think that a mother deserves the highest respect…All mothers, they just sacrifice so much for their kids. So, I believe the profession which deserves the highest salary, respect and love should be of a mother.” It was this heartfelt sentiment that earned her the coveted crown.

As Rudyard Kipling once aptly said, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore, he made mothers.” Indeed, next to birth and death, the universal truth of a mother’s love remains unassailable. Mothers embody unconditional love and selflessness, assuming myriad roles and making countless sacrifices for their children’s well-being. Mother’s Day thus serves as a poignant reminder of their tireless efforts and unwavering support.

If we truly wish to honour our mothers – the embodiment of love and sacrifice – let us do so earnestly, from the depths of our hearts, rather than succumbing to mere ostentation or blindly following Western customs. Let our gestures be genuine expressions of gratitude and appreciation for the irreplaceable role they play in our lives.

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  1. Excellent write-up! When old age homes do not exist in our society, that day should be celebrated as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. That should be a real celebration honoring our beloved parents.



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