Between the devil and the deep blue sea on V-Day

February 14, 2009

Never before have Indian lovers found themselves in such a situation. 
 
Accustomed to being chased by patrolling policemen from behind clumps of rose bushes at parks, I wonder if they are not a little bemused by the sheer number of people who have turned protector of young love.
 
They find themselves in the middle of a tug-of-war between Hindu hardliners with a mandate to protect Indian culture from Western influence and anti-moral policing groups bent on helping them keep dates on Valentine’s Day.
 
Several citizen and political groups have spoken out against plans by the Sri Ram Sena, a little-known Hindu group, to stop couples canoodling on Valentine’s Day saying it went against Indian culture.
 
I know the lovers have always had it tough, but dating on V-Day this year might not prove to be easier.
 
If preparations are anything to go by, then one would think India was at war.
 
A concerned overseas friend, already jittery following a series of militant attacks in India, heard about the additional police deployment in parts of the country and called up. “Is everything all right? Why the additional security?”

I had no option but to reply sheepishly “Oh we are gearing up for Valentine’s Day.”
 
With Hindu groups determined to continue their campaign against couples romancing in public and their opponents fiercely protective of the rights of those who do, yes, I am guessing it’s going to be an interesting day to take out your partner for that quiet, romantic date you always wanted.
 
Vatal Nagaraj, a former member of the Karnataka state assembly, has planned to mobilise a fleet of cars named  ‘Prema Vahanas’ (Love Vehicles) on Valentine’s Day even as a “consortium of pub-going, loose and forward women”, founded by four Indian women on social networking website Facebook has vowed to send cartons of pink panties to the Ram Sena.
 
Blogger Namrata Kotwani, whose website http://www.avalentineforindia.blogspot.com has attracted media attention, plans to hold a protest meet on V-Day in the national capital.  
 
The Ram Sena, which shot into the limelight after it assaulted women in a pub in Mangalore, have cautioned shops, pubs and restaurants in Karnataka against marking Valentine’s Day.
 
Karnataka police took into custody its chief and scores of activists ahead of February 14 to prevent unwanted trouble.
 
In a situation such as this, I wonder if it would be much less trouble to stay put at home and enjoy a delightfully boring but perfectly peaceful Valentine’s Day with your partner.

10 comments

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There is a word in Sanskrit called “Sankranti”. It implies transition.That encapsulates the Indian situation.We have a huge population of youth from rural to semi-urban areas and urban youth – all of whom are equally confused about how to deal with the changes taking place around us.The protests for and against V day are, thus, symptomatic of a social phenomenon cutting across religious and political lines.And they are welcome to the extent they make us self-conscious about the paths we choose for ourselves, and provide an occasion for reflection.It is the threat of coercion and violence about them that is deeply upsetting.Teething troubles I hope !

Posted by vipul tripathi | Report as abusive

Love always is going to make an impact in our lifes even the diferences of culture.I hope is a transition in India.Even in the risk you consider this opinion romantic, I think that love is very important in life and more the expression of it. Couples that are not afraid to express freely what they feel to their partners outside their private environment deserve to be supported. But of course is a expression that must not generate violence , contrary, must generate more love and good feelings….so needed now in moments of crisis, and when we all are realizing that money is not all and can not buy all…and that are things like TRUE LOVE that emmerge as a light to gives as hope to continue living even crisis situation.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

@”"The protests for and against V day are, thus, symptomatic of a social phenomenon cutting across religious and political lines.”"-Posted by vipul tripathi– Your between the lines “both may be right” meaning, hence confusion, is not the right way to put it since that justifies SS and SRS type…. elements which I consider are wrong on this anti-V issue. Apart from anything else, imposing the cultural values is unconstitutional and is a law and order problem and must be handled that way. Rest is all mental exercise.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

I think is not a imposing of values. I think is the way Love it is expressed, the cultural way is a fact of influence.However, we have to consider the emmerging role of India in the world, this emmerging important global role comes with new ways of expression of values like love.I think the main value is that in times of economical global crisis, India is in process of achieve a coexistance in betwen other culture expresions like Love and their own. By other side, in a time when we are learning deeply that the money comes and goes in any time….values like Love, family, traditions as a resource of Peace can be helpful.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

These extremists say they are against transition (say, Westernism)… How many of them are not using petroleum vehicles? How them are following the tradition of peace preached by their holy books? For all of them the answer will be simply…. ‘none of them’ The police and the government and real public are in some senses here. Let these extremist learn love will never fail; Democracy of the sole infrastructure of India. V-Day should be a V-Day.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Major issues like the plummeting of the global finance and humungous lay offs are already playing a nasty role in common-man’s life. Is there any sense of disrupting a day symbolized for love and peace and taking away the simple pleasures of life? I pity all the women born in the families of the so called “Ram sene” (The monkey squad -that is what they are!!!)

Posted by Sri | Report as abusive

@I think is not a imposing of values. I think is the way Love it is expressed, the cultural way is a fact of influence.- Posted by Maria–Expression of love in context of culture must be and is taken care of by Indian constitution. what these SS and SRS …are doing is telling people what to do—but in an uncivilized way and are using the very way which our culture says NO TO. This whole things of “culture” is being used as a platform for the vested interests of few. Hindu values say do good without even taking credit and in a way the other accepts it. So this whole thing by so-called sentinels of the society itself does not adhere to Hindu cultural values and do I have to repeat again this is UNCONSTITUTIONAL.–Given all the diversity, co-existence/tolerance has been the key to sucess of Indian democracy. Such anti-V day type activties are going to spoil that.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Yes I agree ,I admire the Hindu culture values you talked above, and I think that coexistance inside India is vital. I am glad it is under the law umbrella. By my personal experience I can said to you that who preach hate and violence harms the society and the population’shope of peace and progress. Impose of Cultural expressions must not be used for and with violence and coercion purposes.And yes, we can find around violence preaching that those groups use technology and elements of modern life to destroy, for me a doble standard point of view. People simple, like me, that is trying to live in peace and in harmony is hard to see radicals and extremists challenging V-day that is in one way or another promoting simple positive pleasures to enjoy life, like Love and Friendship- basic values common in all the cultures in our world.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

Thanks for all the senseless stunts done by these blind self proclaimed police. These blind guys have no right to interfere with the free will of any man. On one hand these are the people who queue up at cine theatres and cannot live with out a love story on the other hand they make a mess of the same when it comes to reality. What a pity.Pavan.

Posted by Pavan | Report as abusive

[...] More… young lovers “find themselves in the middle of a tug-of-war between Hindu hardliners with a mandate to protect Indian culture from Western influence and anti-moral policing groups bent on helping them keep dates on Valentine’s Day.” [Reuters] [...]

“consortium of pub-going, loose and forward women”. what does “loose and forward women” mean? lol

Posted by cut me loose | Report as abusive