Image by Mihai Paraschiv from Pixabay 

What is LOVE? This is a word we frequently hear in everyday life. For instance, I love playing football (or any other sport), I love a dress, etc. But does anyone know where this word came from? The etymology of this very word can be uncovered in the Proto-Indo-European word “leubh” which means ‘care’ or ‘desire’. The Latin-derived word "lubet," often known as "libet," later evolved from this word, and as a result, over time, it came to be known as ‘LOVE’. This four-letter word holds profound meaning. Simply put, the concept of love is a strong emotional bond with another person. Love is one of the many feelings that every individual feels throughout their lifetime, along with a wide range of other emotions including rage, sadness, fear, joy, and many more. There are various kinds of love, love between family members, romantic love, platonic friendship love, nature love, etc. However, romantic love has been the topic of innumerable plays, musicals, movies, books, and other works of art for ages. Do you all know about the hormone oxytocin? Probably from your science books, a hormone that is responsible for bringing about strong contractions during pregnancy! This same hormone is commonly called a “love hormone”.

Over many decades, Indian culture has made a major point of illustrating the idea of love. To name a few, famous mythological love stories we have grown up listening to are Radha & Lord Krishna. When Lord Krishna used to play the instrument bansuri(flute), all the gopis (milkmaids) including Radha, would gather around to listen to his melodious tunes. Despite them being in love, they did not end up marrying each other. But their love for each other was so divine, that they are always addressed together as the well-known Radha- Krishna. During the Shraavana month, a festival known as Jhulan-Purnima is celebrated in Vrindavan and Mathura, cities of Uttar Pradesh, and even in Mayapur, West Bengal, devotees from across India and the world gather to commemorate this auspicious occasion, which is marked by a joyful celebration with exquisitely decorated swing displays, dances, and songs (it is thought that Krishna once played on swings with Radha and the so-called "gopis" during his formative years).

Another epic love story is of Arjumand Bano Begum (Mumtaz Mahal) and the well-known Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, son of Jahangir and the fifth ruler of the Mughal empire. Because Shah Jahan's passion for spectacular architecture was mirrored in the buildings that were built, his reign was known as the "Golden Age" of the Mughal Empire. His wife was given the title "Mumtaz Mahal," which translates to the ‘jewel of his palace’. They were inseparable from one another, and their love grew deeper every day. However, their love story was short-lived. Her health deteriorated with the delivery of their 14th child, and she passed away. As a vow to his late wife, he hired 2,000 laborers to construct a tomb in her grave that was so stunning and magnificent that it took almost 22 years to complete! This well-known beauty is the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is now recognized by everyone in the entire world. The Taj Mahal was constructed as a tribute to honour his late wife, whom he loved dearly.

Indian cinema has made a diverse range of movies over the years. Out of the many genres like comedy, action, drama, and horror, romantic movies are very much preferred by a wide audience. In addition to many other filmmakers, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Imtiaz Ali, Yash Chopra, and Karan Johar have made us set unrealistic expectations about love through their works. For instance, in “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na”, Jai sings "Tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi" to stop Aditi—his one and only—from boarding the plane, making us all go aww! (Indian films are always too filmy).

You want a love that consumes you, you want passion and adventure, and even a little danger… This dialogue from the show "The Vampire Diaries” made me connect to the emotions of the character’s intense love.

Movies play a huge role in how we perceive love and the ideas we set about love in our real life. We vicariously connect with the emotions of the character. Through these films, we establish certain ideologies about love, while in reality, it is not so.

Intimacy and emotions are not what love is primarily about. Additionally, it is about respect, kindness, fidelity, happiness, and empathy. About finding a best friend in your partner. A confidant whom you can confide in, who will support you during your difficult times, with whom you can be your truest self. The definition of love will vary based on every person’s experiences. For some, it is about having a sense of comfort while for some it can mean being their most vulnerable self & sharing their pain and trauma. It could even be listening to songs of a certain artist that is ‘your go-to thing’ (like Bob Marley). Songs capture love in a way that stirs up intense feelings.

Everyone craves unfathomable love. We all long to have a perfect love but love can never be and it will never be perfect. It should be messy, and complicated in its beautiful way. There is no book or manual that one needs to follow to fall in love with someone.

It is the little things, the small acts, that matter. Everyone seeks a person who will become their home. When you feel low, home is just two arms that will hold you close and protect you. Love does not come easy. It is about effort. It is about understanding each other and facing challenges together as a team.

And to conclude, I'll leave you with this loving phrase from renowned American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan:

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love.

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