New Internationalist

14 February: a day to celebrate!

One Billion Risers [Related Image]
A One Billion Rising flashmob dancing on the streets of West Hollywood. Rebecca Dru under a Creative Commons Licence

It’s Valentine’s Day. Definitely not a traditional Indian holiday. Some sections of the population, led by rabid politicians, have for a few years now attacked young couples for ‘going Western’. They have smashed shop windows advertising Valentine’s Day cards and gifts, and indulged in bouts of hooliganism. But protests notwithstanding, the commercialization of young love survives, indeed thrives, as the mammoth wheels of the industry roll on, unperturbed.


A more interesting celebration, a new one, is that women’s groups have made this day an international celebration of women from every corner (it seems) of the world. Last year, I wrote on 14 February about the One Billion Rising campaign. I was in Gujarat, celebrating the day, dancing and singing with a few thousand women and their supportive men. There was music, folk dancing, everyone swaying to the beat. The atmosphere was electric. The entire group was vibrant, joyous and upbeat. It made you forget, for that brief shining moment at least, the hardship, injustice, cruelty and domestic violence that our women – and women everywhere – deal with for the larger part of their lives.

This year, the global movement led by Eve Ensler has gained momentum. The women involved are jubilant. Passionate. They make it clear that they have made this day their own. It is inclusive, embracing women and people of every creed, caste, colour and class. It brings hope and joy, however fleetingly, to everyone present. It gives women a small ray of sunshine to carry back with them, however bleak and hopeless their lives and their homes are. The remembrance of something bigger, better and happier. A hope that perhaps life will be a little different for their daughters.

The excitement is palpable. News has poured in from all over Africa, the US, Britain, every corner of India, Pakistan, Asia, and even Afghanistan.

Participate in it this weekend, wherever you are! If you can’t, at least watch the videos and be a part of this historic women’s movement.

The World is RISING - Follow the Action LIVE!

Around the world, the sights, sounds and energy of women, men and children in their communities can be heard demanding justice Among the thousands of events planned worldwide, risers will be dancing on campuses; at the gates of the High Court in Bangladesh; in Trafalgar Square in London; at game parks in Swaziland; against the militarization of mines in the Philippines; within Ministries of Women; in violent conflict zones; with the rising girls in Siloe, Haiti; at the Palace of Justice in Rome; across the five burroughs of New York City; at the steps of City Hall in San Francisco; at the International Criminal Court; in prisons, and more!

Ways to follow and support the campaign:

Watch the risings track the sun from east to west via Livestream to get a sense of the global impact.

The homepage is ‘demand central’ for all the amazing items coming in from around the world online via social media, news, blogs and more. Visit it throughout the next few days to see the creative ways in which V-Activists are rising.

Twitter users:
Please post all your updates using the #1BillionRising and #rise4justice hashtags.

Facebook users:
Post your photos for your friends on our wall so we can share them.

Google+ users:
Join our One Billion Rising Event and upload your photos directly from your mobile device!

Be sure to tag your shots #1BillionRising #rise4justice

YouTube stars:
#1BillionRising #rise4justice

Get on the World Map: Upload and geotag your photos and video.

You get the idea. We look forward to seeing you all RISE on 14 February!

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  1. #1 david cohen 15 Feb 14

    What a lift to read Mari Marcel Thekaekara's blog
    on reclaiming Valentine's day to celebrate it as a
    woman's day and with it freedom dignity and respect.--
    and with passion, joy, a state of being jubilant,
    drawing on our cultural resources and with it
    being inclusive and pluralistic.

    So one lesson is don't cede holidays to the
    commercial absolutists. Instead remember
    tha song and dance spark social change.

    The late American folk singer Pete Seeger
    taught us that song and dance can tell more
    powerful stories and engage people in ways
    that manifestos, as important as they are,

    Seeger said it matters not whether you can sing
    well-- that gave me permission as a monotone
    to engage lustily-- but that you sing with others
    by creating that special community.

    We are seeing a pathway to get to that promised
    place with Mari Marcel Thekaekara's blog.

    David Cohen
    Washington DC,
    February 14, 2014

  2. #2 Betty 16 Feb 14

    The enemy for the fanatic is pleasure, which makes it extremely important to continue to indulge in pleasure. Dance madly. That is how you get rid of terrorism.

    Salman Rushdie

    Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.


    You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life.
    Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.

    Rabindranath Tagore

    Psalms 30:11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: you have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

  3. #3 Rebecca Dru 17 Feb 14

    Hi Mari,

    Thanks so much for using my pix!!


    Rebecca Dru

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About the author

Mari Marcel Thekaekara a New Internationalist contributor

Mari is a writer based in Gudalur, in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. She writes on human rights issues with a focus on dalits, adivasis, women, children, the environment, and poverty. Mari's book Endless Filth, published in 1999, on balmikis, is to be followed by a second book on campaigns within India to abolish manual scavenging work. She co-founded Accord in 1985 to work with Adivasi people. Mari has been a contributor to New Internationalist since 1991.

About the blog I travel around India a lot, covering dalit and adivasi issues. I often find myself really moved by stories that never make it to the mainstream media. My son Tarsh suggested I start blogging. And the New Internationalist collective are the nicest bunch of editors I’ve worked with. So here goes.

Read more by Mari Marcel Thekaekara

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