TODAY -

Mother's Day

Louriyam Bebica *

Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing conferring Mother of the Year title to Rawonla Muivah of Dewlahlane on May 08 2011
Rishang Keishing conferring Mother of the Year title to Rawonla Muivah of Dewlahlane on May 08 2011 :: Pix by TSE



We spend many sleepless nights when we felt for someone. And we said that it is 'love'. We pondered ourselves thinking what to write, how to write, what to say to him/her. Picking up the paper from stationary which reflects the heart sign while it is brought under the sun or tube light is first step we do.

As if the paper carries the weight of his/her love. The love birds never get tired opening the dictionaries to find the most beautiful literary words to jot down. If they can't, they will spend the whole night copying the readymade love dialogues/sentences from a bazaar source. The last option is to plea to their friends to write the letter.

In other words we go beyond the world to let our boy friend/girl friend knows how much we love them. What about our mother? She had spent years of sleepless nights changing our napkins, soothing when we cried. The youngsters merged themselves more or less into the replica of Romeo and Juliet, the epitome of love. But they seem to forget the source of their love (mother's love) which they are generating with their new environment. We learned to love bcoz she taught us to 'love'.

The love and care that we covered with so called our husband/wife, kids, family,... is tiny branch from the tree she has. However, have we ever thanked her for loving us unconditionally? Did we befriend with patience, to tell her we value her? Did we ever try to look into her eyes when she is ailing and say "Mamma, I love you". 'M sure, these few words will light up her spirit. Her response will be much of touch of love unlike our boy friend/girl friend, who might not reciprocate our love.

Is it impossible to keep our mouth shut when she scold us and say "Mamma, I am sorry for my mistake"? I don't think so. Bcoz it is one of the home work we do so often in the relation with our partners. Saying I love you and I'm sorry is the key we use so often. Many people both men/women got bald headed just thinking how to plan new surprises for their partners to let them know that their love is still fresh and forever. Doesn't she (mother) also need to know our love? 'M not saying to pour her with surprises now and then but she also deserved the attention we gave to our partners at least to some extent.

Once one of my teachers who taught us Shakespeare's drama said, " In love, falling once is not enough to love, it needs to hold the hands of each other to walk the path called life so that neither of them will stiff and fall in love again with someone else. Love can be in any form, with mom, dad, bro, sis, friends, anyone. The important is to work out, as plant needs not only planting but also nursing.

As a regards to those people who had made this day (Mother's Day) possible can be mentioned briefly. Traditionally, the Mother's Day is centuries old and the earliest Mother's Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was first suggested after the American Civil War by social activist Julia Ward Howe. She was the one who suggested the idea of official celebration of Mother's Day in U.S. Howe was horrified by the carnage of the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War and so, in 1870, she tried to issue a manifesto for peace at international peace conferences in London and Paris.

During the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870s, Julia began a one-woman peace crusade and made an impassioned "appeal to womanhood" to rise against war. She composed in Boston a powerful plea that same year translated it into several languages and distributed it widely. In 1872, she went to London to promote an international Woman's Peace Congress. She began promoting the idea of a "Mother's Day for Peace" to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood.

In the Boston Mass, she initiated a Mothers' Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June, a practice that was to be established as an annual event and practiced for at least 10 years. The day was, however, mainly intended as a call to unite women against war. It was due to her efforts that in 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother's Day for Pace gathering. Howe rigorously championed the cause of official celebration of Mothers Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. She held meetings every year at Boston on Mother's Peace Day and took care that the day was well-observed.

The celebrations died out when she turned her efforts to working for peace and women's rights in other ways. Howe failed in her attempt to get the formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her remarkable contribution in the establishment of Mother's Day, however, remains in the fact that she organized a Mother's Day dedicated to peace. It is a landmark in the history of Mother's Day in the sense that this was to be the precursor to the modern Mother's Day celebrations. To acknowledge Howe's achievements a stamp was issued in her honor in 1988.

Howe's idea was influenced by Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called "Mothers Friendship Day". In the 1900's, at a time when most women devoted their time solely on their family and homes, Jarvis was working to assist in the healing of the nation after the Civil War.

She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors. Ann was instrumental in saving thousands of lives by teaching women in her Mothers Friendship Clubs the basics of nursing and sanitation which she had learned from her famous physician brother James Reeves, M.D. In parts of the United States it was customary to plant tomatoes outdoors after Mother's Work Days (and not before).

It was Jarvis' daughter, Anna Jarvis, who finally succeeded in introducing Mother's Day in the sense as we celebrate it today. She was recognized as a founder of Mother's Day in U.S though she never married and had kids. Anna graduated from the Female Seminary in Wheeling and taught in Grafton for a while. Later she moved to Philadelphia with her family. Anna had spent many years looking after her ailing mother. This is why she preferred to remain a spinster. When her mother died in Philadelphia on May 9, 1905, Anna missed her greatly.

So did her sister Elsinore whom she looked after as well. Anna felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while the mother was still alive. Now, she intended to start a Mother's Day, as an honoring of the mothers. In 1907, two years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis disclosed her intention to her friends who supported her cause wholeheartedly. So supported by her friends, Anna decided to dedicate her life to her mother's cause and to establish Mother's Day to "honor mothers, living and dead." She started the campaign to establish a national Mother's Day.

With her friends, she started a letter-writing campaign to urge ministers, businessmen and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds. As a result of her efforts the first mother's day was observed on May 10, 1908, by a church service honoring Late Mrs. Reese Jarvis, in the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, where she spent 20 years taking Sunday school classes. Grafton is the home to the International Mother's Day Shrine. Another service was also conducted on the same date in Philadelphia where Mrs. Jarvis died, leaving her two daughters Anna and Elsinore.

So it was more of a homage service for Mrs. Reeves Jarvis than a general one conducted in honor of motherhood. Nevertheless, this set the stage for the later Mother's Day observances held in the honor of motherhood. Following this, it gained a widespread popularity across the nation. The Mother's Day International Association came into being on December 12, 1912, to promote and encourage meaningful observances of the event. Anna's dream came true when on May 9, 1914, the Presidential proclamation declared the 2nd Sunday of May to be observed as Mother's Day to honor the mothers.

We may not need a particular day to thank our mother but we need to thank for sure. It is painful to watch today's youngsters treating their parents as a burden. They seem to forget the cycle of life where their feet too will stand in their place.

"We are born and brought up not in a single day.
Their patience has made us women/men of today
"


* Louriyam Bebica wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on May 13, 2012 .



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