New Delhi– Love filled the air and there were no disruptive right-wing storms as young couples celebrated Valentine’s Day in major cities across India on Tuesday – unlike in the past when the international day of love was marred by attacks from Hindu radicals who claim foreign influence was corrupting Indian culture.
The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) held a love parade in Delhi University in defiance of the right-wing groups who had prohibited the celebrations.
“The right-wing divisive forces are set to divide our nation. They say ‘no’ to love and we say ‘yes’ to it. So, we are organising a love parade to mark Valentine’s Day,” NSUI National Secretary Leni Jadhav told IANS.
Last year, right-wing groups had warned youth against celebrating Valentine’s Day saying it was against Indian culture. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had conducted awareness camps in colleges to “enlighten” the youth against its celebration.
“The right wing groups believe they can take away the freedom of the common man by imposing their diktat. They have been known for making bigoted statements threatening those who choose to celebrate their love on this day,” Jadhav said.
“They have also in the past attempted to assault people. We wish to reinstate the power of love and unity through this parade,” she added.
But this year, there were no programmes or campaigns by ABVP against the celebrations.
“They are being very safe this time by not holding any of those campaigns or giving those statements or perhaps God has given them wisdom,” Jadhav said.
“This love parade is an open platform for people to come and enjoy and celebrate love, peace and unity,” she added.
But in Ghaziabad close to the national capital, activists of the All India Hindu Mahasabha protested the celebration of Valentine’s Day outside plush Gaur Central Mall in up-scale Rajnagar area where couples were celebrating the day. They also burnt an effigy depicting Valentine’s Day as part of their protest.
Spokesperson of the Hindu Mahasabha, B.K. Sharma said the organisation had decided to oppose functions “that ruin Hindu culture”.
“The celebration of Valentine’s day is against Hindu culture.”
The members asked visitors not to encourage children to celebrate the day which they said has “sneaked in from the Western world to this Hindu country”.
The day also passed off peacefully in the maximum city of Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and other major cities and towns of India.
In Meghalaya, it was a Valentine’s Day with a difference where Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) group launched a relatable social media and sticker campaign to open up discussion on notions of consent, safety, pleasure, equality and respect.
The campaign was aimed at creating awareness on consent at a time when sexual assault of various forms, ranging from harassment at the work place, rapes, child abuse, and domestic violence, are on the rise in the matrilineal state.
“Sexual assault and rape happens not just among strangers. Date rapes are common and we need to acknowledge that rapes do take place even within a marriage,” TUR member Badapbor Mawlieh told IANS.
They distributed stickers with messages like “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get my consent. If it is not yes, it is rape” to young boys and girls in public places, cafes, colleges and parks, including Ward’s Lake here in the city. (IANS)