Rose Day is an annual love extravaganza, organized by Ruia to celebrate love. Instead of hushing the voice of love, we have been accepting it and encouraging it all these years, through our Rose Day, enabling more with love cards, crush cards, roses and what not.
Most institutions do celebrate Rose Day during February coupled with the muffled Valentine’s Day celebrations. Ruia, on the other hand has always chosen to celebrate Rose Day with élan, in September to maintain its sole focus on spreading love and cheer instead of letting another festive February day overshadow it.
Each year, the themes has been rather simple and ‘easy’ to work with. This year, during the first VPM (our student council) meeting, the Core team asked each team to suggest a theme. The game changing SCOTUS hearing had just been passed in June and the literary arts team coordinator made a brave move by suggesting ‘equal love’ or ‘love for all’ as a theme. Thus from a suggestion to an actual implementation, we progressed from ‘love for all’ suggesting ‘inclusiveness.’ Riding on the wave of mindset reform that the hearing and the rainbow filter Facebook display images had brought in, we decided to be a little ambitious and contribute in our own, miniscule way in creating a safe space for people in Ruia, who might be struggling with accepting themselves and acceptance at large. Not just acceptance, we wanted people to love, and do so without judgment.
We knew that we weren’t signing up for an easy task, given how sensitive this topic is and how controversial it tends to get, but nevertheless, all of VPM was definitely thrilled about the uphill task waiting for them.
This Rose Day has been particularly special because of the theme. Right from the decorations, in pride colors to the rose king, rose queen hunt incorporating the help of the blind students from our college; all of it has been to hold true to our promise of inclusivity. The process of selection for the rose king, rose queen hunt does deserve special mention. In the fine arts round, the contestants were required to create a rose day related card out of textured paper which the blind students were asked to identify. In the literary arts round, the contestants were asked to pick chits and describe any of the 8 pride colors to a blind person. Following this was the photo-shoot where strictly no makeup was allowed. Knowingly, we imparted lessons in accepting yourself with all your flaws and strengths.
We paid special attention to finer details, which greatly contributed in making the event as exceptional as it turned out to be. Each team in the VPM wore t-shirts in the eight shades of the pride flag. Some teams, even had wonderful quotes printed on the back, ours being “Love is too beautiful to be hidden in the closet.” Prior to the event, all the volunteers had been changing their Whatsapp display images to a new color from the pride flag each day, with a message about what the color stood for. This display changing process culminated in a rainbow colored display image on 12th of September, Rose Day. The countdown posts on social media, were on gender identities, not just to count the days down to Rose Day but also to sensitize the rather insensitive vast majority of youth who tend to be irresponsible with words for the transgender community.
Inclusiveness, as a theme would be like a weapon without teeth if we didn’t have members of the LGBTIQ community, as guests for our event. As a community, they know best how difficult it is, to have a society, which is non-inclusive and doesn’t accept anyone who is not a follower of heteronormative domain.
To champion our cause of creating a more accepting environment, it greatly helped having celebrities from the LGBTIQ community who not only inspire young minds everywhere but who have their own fan following. Our experience with both Harish Iyer and Sushant Divgikar was wonderful. They gave us extensive inputs to help develop our promotional Rose Day video into a short film, which could be an entry for Kashish. This apart, Sushant Divgikar’s singing skills, bought the crowd to a standstill, as one of the PR team volunteers remarked, it was a divine coincidence that the moment his voice hit the highest note in Adele’s Rolling in The Deep, there was a happy cloud burst, it started raining.
Harish Iyer, said something that rang true with most of us, rephrasing what he said. “What mattered was loving yourself, accepting yourself and coming out to yourself, third party acceptance is absolutely unimportant. Earlier, in a one-on-one interaction, he had also told us that celebrating yourself and being proud of yourself is what is of utmost importance, ultimately”
On the days leading to Rose Day, we had all been extremely optimistic and excited with the prospects awaiting us. What we had not imagined in our wildest dreams was how overwhelming the response to this event would be. Not just from the celebrities, but also from non-Ruiaites, and organizations like IIT B’s Saathi who shared the promotional video appreciating our hard work. From our end, we are honoured that everyone (from the community or not from the community) has not only loved our work but also regarded us as harbingers of change. Though there is no competition here, we wish every institute stands true to the spirit of inclusivity of all genders and sexualities… I should end this piece in an optimistic note “nothing feels better than “OBAMA-ing” every other college in the city!”