In The News



by Monojit Lahiri June 15 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins, 7 secs

To address why Mother’s Day is celebrated with such grandiosity and emotion compared to the more subdued Father’s Day, Monojit Lahiri dives into the cultural and social dynamics that shape the celebrations.

The celebration of motherhood has ancient origins, with festivals like the Roman festival of Hilaria and the Greek worship of Rhea, the mother of gods. In modern times, Mother’s Day was officially recognized in the early 20th century, largely due to the efforts of Anna Jarvis in the United States, who wanted to honour her own mother and the sacrifices mothers make.

The bond between mother and child is perceived as uniquely intimate. From birth, mothers are typically seen as the primary caregivers, deeply involved in the emotional development of their children. Many individuals carry this early emotional connection throughout their lives. The intense, nurturing role mothers play evokes strong feelings of gratitude and love, which are expressed on Mother’s Day.

Also, therefore, media campaigns depict mothers in sentimental, heartwarming scenarios, reinforcing the ideal of the selfless, loving mother. This portrayal reinforces traditional gender roles and sets high expectations for Mother’s Day. Manufacturers capitalize on these emotions, promoting gifts, cards, and special events designed to honour mothers.

In contrast, fathers, traditionally seen as providers, are celebrated in less emotive ways. Societal norms have historically placed less emphasis on emotional expression from men, which translates into less dramatic celebrations for Father’s Day. Media representations of fathers focus on their role as figures of authority, which don’t evoke the same sentimental engagement.

When I ask a cool, bindaas Mumbai-based co-ed who is a Bollywood freak, why Mother’s Day is more celebrated than its counterpart, he says, “Mere paas Maa hai!” Wisecracks (or is it seedhi baat?) apart, isn’t the poor devil also an (active) joint partner of the production team? An entity whose input is as critical for the final output? Hasn’t this soul, in recent times, also raised his hand to ask for Paternity Leave to demonstrate the simple fact that apart from the labour of love, there is also the tacit desire to be involved in every aspect of fathering a child?  

None of this, however, seems to cut much ice with most of whom I spoke to. London-based Neha Singh believes that the reason is a no-brainer. The 25-year-old Investment Banker reckons it has to do with “an emotional bonding. Mothers raise children as they are the homemakers. Along the way, values, beliefs, good and bad aspects of life are all imbibed from what they teach you. Fathers are a different scene. Our relationship with them is, mostly, more formal and no matter how close you may be, there is a distance. Mom is your best friend, confidante, everything!”

Kolkata-based law student Kushal Sen gets his own spin: “Good question! Never thought of it seriously but I guess it has to do with the umbilical cord and breast-feeding factor - both physical activities hugely influencing emotional connect, at least subliminally. Fathers come in at a later stage and usually hit different touch points – sports, studies, career plans etc. Their joy is seeing their kids well fed and bred and in a secure place in the future.”

Sydney-based IT executive Sid Desai finds this whole issue ridiculous. “I don’t know why this issue is ever discussed because, for me, my parents are equal partners with their responsibilities cut out. Mom is the homemaker. Dad is the provider. It is obvious that a mom, born with built-in mamta, etc, will be in a better position to impact their children’s mindscape in the formative years because the poor dad is working his butt off to give them a decent life. It’s not a level playing field, guys!”

Agrees Naina Maheshwari, an MA student from Delhi. “The dad brigade (unfairly) don’t stand a chance because the laadla beta or laadli beti syndrome has a direct and powerful connect, mostly, with moms, famous for their unconditional, my-kid-can-do-no-wrong signature tune. Kids (even long after they’ve grown up and had kids of their own) are influenced by this at a subliminal level where fathers don’t really feature. Does that mean they don’t love their fathers? Of course not! I love my dad to death, but on their respective Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it’s more challenging and fun to locate a gift for my mom”.

Marketers bring in their own ground realities. They agree that Father’s Day is actually “one of the smallest commercialised events,” way behind Mother’s Day. In fact, it was reported a week before Father’s Day in 2014 that Americans were expected to spend around $7.4 billion less on gifts and goodies for dad, compared to the same spend on Mother’s Day! Robert Passikof, president of retail consultancy Brand Keys, suggests that apart from a bigger emotional link, “there’s a more pragmatic reason: There’s more stuff to buy for mom! Beyond a gadget, clothes or gift card, there’s little else.”

Agrees Suman Dave, marketing consultant who dotes on his Delhi-based father. “My mom loves surprises, but dad doesn’t. I know exactly what he wants: music, movies, books, maybe gadgets and perfumes, clothes…so I try to get him to talk about stuff. Oh, this time, it was a slightly high-end mobile. He wasn’t too happy, insisting he was both comfortable and satisfied with his present (stone-age) apparatus. Soon, however, he started loving it and now can’t get enough of the apps that come with it!”

Modern families are increasingly recognizing the vital roles that both parents play, leading to more balanced celebrations. As gender roles become more fluid and equitable, the distinctions in how Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated may continue to diminish.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.