India: Hindu Radicals Oppose Western Influence of Valentine’s Day


As Valentine’s Day approaches, saffron outfit Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha has threatened to oppose the various “western ways” of showing affection on February 14 by introducing a traditional equivalent of the festival of love in the form of Vasant Panchami.

“If there is any Hindu festival which comes close to Valentine's Day, it is Basant Panchami when new blooms add a festive hue to the atmosphere and there is a traditional way of celebrating it. But, these celebrations are now on the wane and the youth are embracing western traditions,” said Hindu Mahasabha President Chandra Prakash Kaushik. “Our teams consisting of boys and girls carrying white roses or other flowers will visit malls, parks, historical monuments and other places frequented by young couples on Valentine's Day in major towns and cities in the country.”

According to Kaushik, the hype around Valentine’s Day is a result of consumerism and has been influenced by the role of business establishments who want nothing else but to reap financial gains from this occasion.

“We are not against love as we are the country which has spread love all over the world but we are against the western influence on our society and by offering white flowers we will be spreading the message of peace,” he said.

Hindu Front For Justice, a group working to provide justice to Hindus, too, opposed Valentine’s Day celebrations on February 14, explaining neither does it have any relevance to Hinduism nor does it suit the Hindu way of life.

“As per the shastra (scriptures), Vasant Panchami is the Hindu equivalent to Valentine's Day but we celebrate it with dignity and as per the Hindu dharma and customs,” Hari Shankar Jain of Hindu Front for Justice said.

On February 14, people across the world including those in India, exchange gifts and flowers with their valentines in order to express their love. However, this year, Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha has planned a nationwide strategy to discourage India’s youth from displaying their affection in public by threatening to marry them off.

“Couples who are major and insist that they are in love and are serious to take their relationship to the next level must get married and we will facilitate it,” Kaushik said.

He also went on to warn those who are dating but unsure of getting married of dire consequences. Additionally, in a desperate attempt to push the agenda common among all Hindutva organizations, with regards to inter-faith couples, Kaushik said people from other religions would be asked to revert to Hinduism as a sign of proof of their emotions.

“They will be told to give a test of their love and return to the religion of their ancestors who were all Hindus,” he said, adding all people in this country were Hindus and they would be welcomed to the original fold. “If they refuse to do so, it will be a matter of love jihad and it will be proved that they had trapped the other partner under a conspiracy,” he said.

In such scenarios, marriages would be conducted only after a purification ritual, he said.

In the meanwhile, police in Uttar Pradesh have been issued special instructions to maintain law and order in urban areas and important cities. Reportedly, additional personnel would be deployed at parks, malls and theatres to ensure no ruckus takes place.

“Instructions have been issued in this regard to police officials, especially in urban areas, to make necessary deployment of force to ensure that no one is allowed to take law in his hands,” Inspector General Satish Ganesh said. “Strong action will be taken against offenders and those found harming peace and order.”

Only hours after threatening to marry off young couples found guilty of celebrating Valentine’s Day, Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha started to receive flak on Twitter, with several people cracking jokes about the saffron outfit.

At the same time, cyber protesters in Kerala decided to launch a fight against the radical agenda in the form of a rather innovative social media campaign. With the title “Come, Write a Love Letter” and the tagline “A Sweet Revenge to Hindu Mahasabha”, the campaign, which was launched in the state’s Kozhikode district, has already gained a lot of attention, with many people proclaiming love for their valentines on the campaign’s Facebook page. Page admins Lab Eeb, Shafeek H, Aswathy Senan and Hairuneesa P have been urging people to send in their love letters to the campaign’s page using the hashtag #LoveLetterMovement.

“We have the right to love and to be loved. It is our fundamental right and also helps in the formation of our personality,” reads the campaign’s Facebook page.

On the other hand, Hindu hardliners in Gujarat and Chhattisgarh have been lobbying for February 14 to be celebrated as the day of love and worship for parents. While saffron activists in Gujarat have been pitching for the occasion to be renamed as Abba Ammi Ibadat Divas, Matru-Pitru Pujan Divas or Parents Worship Day, the government in Chattisgarh has already gone ahead and declared Valentine’s Day as Matru Pitru Divas or Parents Worship Day.

The order, which was issued by the Directorate of Public Instruction, says, “Now, parent’s day is being celebrated. No separate orders will be issued every year in this regard,” suggesting Chhattisgarh’s government has indeed institutionalized the change.

Reportedly, on this day, parents would be invited to schools, where their children would worship them to prove to them their love and respect.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia

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