Hard-Line Hindus Protest Against Valentine's Day

Remember our previous story about Saudi's ban on the color red for Valentine's Day? Turns out that the anti-valentine sentiment wasn't limited to muslim extremists.

India's hard-line Hindu are showing no love for The Day of Love, too:

India's Hindu hard-liners are showing no love for Valentine's Day. A few dozen protesters briefly blocked a road in downtown New Delhi on Wednesday, burning Valentine's Day cards and chanting "Down with Valentine." In the nearby city of Lucknow, extremists threatened to beat up couples found celebrating their love.
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"We are deadly against Valentine's Day," said Sapan Dutta, a regional leader of the hard-line Shiv Sena group. "We are for civilized love and affection."

The protests by groups like Shiv Sena, who say they are defending traditional Indian values from Western-style promiscuity, have become an annual media event.


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#3 (Melissa) pretty much bopped it on the nose. Marriage in India is still for the most part a business transaction. While this has several up-sides, it has down-sides, too. The same goes for romantic love. Part of me would like to blame the promiscuity of Indian men on this --- except that promiscuity is a problem in the West as well, so apparently promiscuity stems from an unrelated cause.

I have noticed that many Indians and Bangladeshi I know are either profoundly ignorant of pregnancy or in a state of extreme denial, as if babies were somehow something to be ashamed of. My guess is that these violent protests are a case of "the lady doth protest too much." The protesters know that promiscuity happens in India, and rather than accept that it's a common problem that could perhaps be solved by honest, open communication, they treat it as though it's an alien thing and blame it on "the West." In the absence of "western" influences, they'd blame it on someone else.

This seems to hold true anywhere in the world, wherever counterproductive violent opposition occurs.

Where's the Kama, people? (Hindu deity of Love, like Eros or Cupid)

They would do well to remember a couple of romantic lovers from Hindu folklore, whose stories portray them as true & virtuous. The story of Savitri is one: She flees to the forest to escape a prophecy that her husband, should she marry, will die after a single year. She meets a handsome young woodcutter there and falls in love anyway. He dies after a year, but she refuses to stop following Yama (Death) when he takes her husband's soul. Yama takes pity on her and grants her three wishes (provided that "restore my husband to life" is not one of them). Her 3rd wish is to have many children, so Yama promises that this will happen. Having secured that boon, Savitri reminds Yama that a Hindu woman may marry only once. Yama tells her, "In this way do the gods enjoy being defeated," and restores her husband to life, breaking the curse.

The other story I had in mind concerns a "forbidden love" between a man and woman of different castes. As the hapless couple is being dragged off to be immolated for this transgression, the woman compares the burning of bodies to the burning of wood for incense. She points out that although certain woods smell better than others when burnt, the bodies of a Brahmin and an Untouchable smell alike. (Not exactly iron-clad logic, but neither is the basis of the caste system either. In the story, it works.)
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It's not just about Valentine's Day itself for the Indian extremists. It's about opposing the westernized view of romantic love. Traditionally, romantic love plays a drastically different role in India than in America. Here, we choose a mate who appeals to us, flirt and date and get all mushy and fall in love and get married. There, marriage is often arranged and more of a financial and family tie arrangement than a romantic thing. Valentines focuses on Western style romantic love and expression rather than tradition. It's not like the anti-valentines sentiment here in America where it's just bitter single people and divorced people and cheap people and people who just like to complain about anything that makes other people happy that don't like the holiday.
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