Sunday, February 16, 2003

Valentines Day in India

I am sure many of you may have already seen some of the reporting on Valentine's Day actions taken by memebers of Maharashtra's Shiv Sena Party. It seems they don't like Valentine's day because it promotes Western Holidays and goes against Indian values and culture.

Hindu nationalists Friday raided shops in Bombay and burned cards and gifts for Valentine's Day, which they say goes against traditional Indian values.
``Save Indian culture,'' shouted activists as they snatched cards from the shops in a western Bombay suburb, then burned them in a bonfire.
Activists also marched to the state legislature building in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, and set fire to a heap of Valentine's Day cards. Handwritten notes in the Hindi language were pasted on card and gift shops with the warning: ``Valentine's Day is against our culture. It is obscene and against our tradition.''
``Valentine's Day is against the ethics and culture of Indian society,'' said Bal Kalsekar, a leader of the nationalist Shiv Sena party, which is based in Bombay.
Kalsekar visited Satyam's, a big stationery shop in central Bombay on Friday and said the anti-Valentine campaign had been successful.
``If we see anyone flouting our ban, we will set the cards on fire and break up the shop,'' Kalsekar said.

Is it me, or do Mr. Kalsekar's statements seem slightly contradicting. I didn't realize thuggery, extortion, and instilling fear in people for minding their own business and partaking in whatver legal activity they wish to was part of bing Indian, Hindu, or more in line with the ethics and culture of Indian society. I am very curioous how he could have made those statements with a straight face, as if setting cards on fire and destroying someones shop is part of the Indian or Hindu ethos. It is very unfortunate that people like Mr. Kalsekar are trying to hijack and coopt this culture into something conservative and anti-West. What is even more unfortunate is that Mr. Kalsekar and the Right Wing Hindu's he represents are slowly becoming the face, or the public persona of Hinduism, when in reality, they are not representative at all of it.


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