But Valentine's Day brought one more gift - a revolutionary one, wrapped in schmaltzy ribbons maybe, but still revolutionary.
Saying 'I love you' - with a kiss.
The implications were explosive.
In pre-liberalisation India, saying 'I love you' was almost as dangerous as saying, 'I hate Indira Gandhi'. Love, the kind between two people, not two clans, is inherently dangerous. In its power and idiocy, its madness and single-mindedness, its desire and despair, love dissolves identities. Love makes lovers only aware of each other, miraculously free of Papa-Mummy, chacha-tayi, maama-bhanja, et al. Love makes you selfish - and self-aware.
Such love - passionate, personal and unpredictable - was highly dangerous for pre-liberalisation India lived with a Misery Mindset, anticipating gloom, not bloom. In that India, it was actually considered ok to spend a lifetime with low expectations, labouring under not just shortfalls but the expectation of catastrophe, the anticipation of disaster - crops failing, famine hitting, license revoking - foreboding times of hardship and pain that would entail families clinging closer, falling on communal resources, group labour, stored gold, dynasty dowries.
But if people fell in love and rode off into the sunset instead, how could family resources be consolidated? Instead, these would splinter, like an achy-breaky heart, leaving families to cope with disasters as shrunken units in stormy seas.
Hence, the importance of not being amorous gripped the Indian psyche.
Making love was not, as Celine Dion so breathily sings, for fun - it was for family, protecting, preserving and procreating family. In that context grew Freud's 'virginity taboo' and the idea that sex wasn't pleasure but work (and anyone having fun was immoral). Holding hands was pointless. Kissing was a waste of time - and even caused seditious notions for the kiss is among love's most dangerous plays.
It is with the French kiss particularly - lips touch, tongues tango - that lovers understand love. The French kiss teaches us love is passion. It teaches us that love is tender respect. It teaches us love isn't domination. Love is a thrillingly equal awareness. Love is experiencing another's being - and suddenly realising your own.
Unsurprisingly, this comes from the land of the greatest revolution in political thought.
France emphasised everyone deserved to be free, to live, to love as they please, bringing curtains - or a guillotine - down on feudalism's choke-hold, celebrating freedom with a big fat kiss.
The nervousness this kiss aroused is why Indian censors insisted on screen passion defined by flowers in pollen-coated desire, never real people experiencing a kiss. This is why our censor board still thinks it's fine to shred James Bond's kisses - otherwise, how do you stop young people from thinking love-making is free of social duty? If young people think like that, they won't behave like old people.
And then, the sky will most certainly fall.
Ipsita Chakravarty - Romance as sedition: Something new to try this Valentine's Day