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India's greatest love stories: Shah Jahan & Mumtaz Mahal
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Imagine Shah Jahan reincarnated in 2008. Apart from being surprised, the love stories of today would surely fascinate him. While he built the Taj Mahal in his wife’s memory, people today spend on chocolates, heart-shaped balloons and mementos for their loved ones. If he had to create a memory for his wife today, he would probably build a mall!
 
One of the greatest Indian love stories is of Shah Jahan’s love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The emperor erected the Taj Mahal in the memory of his dead wife while grieving for her. About 20,000 workers toiled day and night to create this masterpiece, which is today one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
 
The daughter of Shah Jahan’s father’s Prime Minister, Arjumand Banu Begum became Mumtaz Mahal when she was christened as the ‘jewel of the palace’ by Shah Jahan after their marriage. His inseparable companion till her end, she enjoyed the goodwill of the people for all her charitable work and just decisions. The king was never the same without her and was eventually captured and imprisoned by his own son Aurangzeb. He spent his last days looking at the monument he erected in her loving memory.
 
Today, there are few lovers like Shah Jahan and fewer like Mumtaz Mahal. If Shah Jahan was born today, he would definitely buy Mumtaz Mahal a garden of red roses, a store full of Swiss chocolates, personalized jewelry from Tanishq and have composers from across the world create music and write lyrics dedicated to her. No demonstration of devotion compares to the building of the Taj Mahal but in 2008 he might build a shopping mall with every other shop named after Mumtaz. Movies, plays, theater and drama try and capture the timeless essence of these immortal love stories in ways they decipher it, but nothing comes close to the simplicity of their love and dedication for each other.
 
Today, people seem to think love cannot be expressed with an empty wallet. Roses, chocolates, gifts, music and lyrics all cost money and love has become more an expression of the rich and famous rather than an emotion to cherish and reciprocate. Switch on your television and all the channels will showcase some advertisement selling gift ideas to express love. Gone are the eras of great love stories when love was expressed by a hesitant look and a simple glance.
 
With specialized Valentine’s Day gifts flooding the market, what are you going to buy for your loved one? Or are you going to be traditional and express your sentiments in words rather than printed letters on a card?

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