Kiss of Love needs Revisiting in India!

With Bangalore govt. dismissing kiss as an obscene act, kiss of love is taking newer shapes in Bangalore. I am forced to wonder – ‘really! Kiss is obscene. Is that what we came up with!’ I had to respond with a blog. Enjoy!

I have been a silent spectator to all the talk, outrage, skepticism in India around the Kiss of Love Campaign. Personally I am surprised that an act as intimate and private as a Kiss was chosen as the theme for a public campaign against Social Moral Policing. I saw front pages of newspapers sprawled with images of hetero and homo gendered couples engaged in mouth to mouth lock-in with a zillion cameras and cell phones greedily flashing to capture the moment. It was at best a well-orchestrated spectacle more than anything. With so much public attention, if we think, we are engaging in a sacred moment of Kiss of Love, we are only kidding ourselves!

The campaign of Kiss of Love itself in my opinion is a overrated misunderstanding of the west. Many in India believe that every couple in the United States is engaged in a public display of mouth-to-mouth lock-downs and making out on the streets. The other day somebody pointed out to me that they have traveled everywhere in the world but refuse to visit the United states for they think it is one of the most shameless countries. As a US citizen and having lived there for the last 15 years, I can testify to the fact that this notion is the most ridiculously laughable idea we have about America and the Americans. Scenes in Hollywood movies cannot be equated to a normal day in the United States just like item numbers in the Bollywood movie cannot be seen as an aspect of our lived culture. In fact, many of my American friends feel very embarrassed at some of our sexually suggestive Bollywood item numbers displayed on big screen televisions in public Indian restaurants. Americans value their privacy and intimacy deeply. Kissing is a natural expression of love for them. It is not restricted between lovers but Parents kiss their children goodnight on the mouth; Friends kiss each other on the lip. Kissing on the lip is quite a normal act of the day. There is nothing overrated and unnatural about it. Kissing is a moment of experiencing intimacy – something private, sacred and intensely personal between two people.

In India, kiss on the lip is not the natural expression for most people. How many of us are kissed by our parents on the lip? Forget the lips, how many of us are kissed or hugged by our parents everyday as an expression of love? Put aside public displays, even in the privacy of different relationships, how many of us truly engage in an Kissing moment with each other as friends, sisters, brothers, parents and lovers. In India, our public expression of Intimacy is very different. We don’t have to ape the western expressions of intimacy. It doesn’t make it any more cool or hep.

It is true that on the Indian sub-continent, nude intimate bodies engaging in the act of Kiss, Love Making have adorned the walls of temple and universities because that is how sacred it was considered. Those carved images were not a public display of bodies like seen in the overzealous marketing propaganda of many products nowadays. It was a sacred acknowledgement of the creative, life giving act of Love itself.

Kissing in itself is not obscene but when it is used as a means for getting something the very expression becomes obscene to the onlooker. Let us not reduce the campaign of ‘Kiss of Love’ to a lustful ‘hormonic’ salivating act for the onlookers. That doesn’t address the issue of Social Moral Policing. We need to create safe spaces to engage in conversations around topics such as

How can we embody Intimacy as well as hold spaces for intimacy in our daily lives?
How can we create safe spaces for young people to know each other intimately?

Intimacy demands vulnerability. Vulnerability demands feeling at the level of the heart. Isn’t Intimacy what we all seek – to be seen, known and cherished intimately by the other. In a fast shifting capitalistic world, were body and sexuality is becoming the fastest selling commodity, we need to urgently engage in conversations around body and sexuality openly and freely. Instead of scrapping Kiss of Love as obscene, can we explore more creative ways of reclaiming intimacy in the public arena.

Maybe cities can host Full Moon Midnight Public Gatherings where public streets are lit with natural lights of bonfires as men, women, and children wlak about safely and openly meeting, talking, laughing, hugging and sitting with each other under the moonlight creating intimate memories in relationship to the other as friend, lover, sister, brother, father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandfather, grandmother and more.

Do you have other creative ideas to reclaim intimacy!

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