Hindu College, Delhi
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Damdami Mai/ ‘virgin tree’
For years now, Delhi University’s Hindu College has celebrated Valentine’s Day by choosing a Bollywood actress, called Damdami Mai, every year and pray to her in front of a ‘virgin tree’. The students believe that praying to pictures of the actress would help them find love and lose their virginity. However, many organisations have criticised the practice, calling it misogynistic.
The union members said that for the first time a male celebrity will also be part of the 20-year-old tradition, for “equality”. Posters of actors Jacqueline Fernandez and Ranveer Singh would be put up on the tree this year, along with water-filled condoms and balloons.
“Since we now have a girl’s hostel in our campus, we took their choice into consideration,” Sajeev, vice-president of hostel union said. Hindu College alumni, filmmaker Nalin Rajan has been invited as a special guest for the event.
Women’s collective Pinjra Tod has also questioned the celebration in a statement. “It is just another trope which objectifies women. Practices like these contribute to rape culture.”
However, the female college students claim they have no concerns over the criticism. “This is part of our tradition,” said a student.
Coming down heavily on the ‘virgin tree’ celebrations, DCW chief Swati Jaihind said that she was unaware about the ritual until a few students explained it to her. “Posting pictures of women in this manner should be stopped as it is demeaning”. She added, “Action will be taken against those indulging in these practices.”
2019: tradition altered
Facing backlash and protests from women students over their ‘virgin tree puja’, Hindu College’s hostel association has decided to worship a celebrity couple this year. The ritual, called sexist and misogynist by several groups including Pinjra Tod, involves the boys’ hostel conducting a puja of a female figure called Damdami Mai on Valentine’s Day on the virgin tree.
Last year, following protests, the college saw the puja of bollywood actor Ranveer Singh as ‘love guru’. Every year, the students pray to a ‘virgin tree’ and hang condoms on its branches, claiming it brings ‘good luck’ to the students, who fall in love lose their virginity soon after participating.
Several women students, identifying as the ‘progressive front’, had raised objections to the tradition, protesting the objectification of women. This prompted a meeting of students with members of the hostel association and student union on Monday.
“We raised our concerns about the event, but boys’ hostel residents turned hostile,” said third year English honours student, Yogita Suresh. Facing the prospect of a protest, the hostel decided to conduct the puja of a famous couple this year, she said.
“The chosen couple will be revealed on February 14. We will put their picture on the virgin tree,” said a student of the college who wished to remain anonymous.
Student collective Pinjra Tod point out that the practice is regressive and has called for a protest against it.
India's no. 8 in Arts
CITY: New Delhi
The college boasts of an accomplished faculty of about 120 members, and more than 2,000 students. The college is also proud of its efficient and very supportive non-academic staff. It offers a number of courses in the Sciences, Humanities and the Social Science streams.
Academic Input: 7
Student Care: 7
Perceptual Rank: 7
Factual Rank: 15