Come Valentine's Day, lovers begin preparing. Mundane objects become heart-shaped and love begins to permeate everything. But every year, Valentine's Day celebrations leave many fuming. Love, it seems, isn't Indian. Public display of love is definitely a sin. Here are our picks of the weirdest and most absurd reactions to Valentine's Day in India!
1. Marry off anyone found celebrating Valentine’s Day
This year, extremist Hindu outfits have promised a "prompt Arya Samaj" marriage for those found celebrating the "foreign festival". Meanwhile, inter-faith partners will have to endure a "shuddhikaran" (purification) ritual. Those found hugging shall be prime targets!
2. Throwing rotten tomatoes at lovers
Last year, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists decided to pelt rotten tomatoes at couples sitting along the Sabarmati River on V-day in Ahmedabad. We guess they would have had to buy a lot of rotten tomatoes...
3. The priest with mangalsutras and turmeric
In 2009, Pramod Muthalik of the Shri Ram Sena promised that their priest would be roaming the city on February 14, armed with a mangalsutra and turmeric, marrying "celebrating couples" off. Sounds to us like a pretty cheap and efficient way of getting married - no fuss, and Muthalik will take care of all the logistical issues!
4. Burning of Valentine's Day cards
This happens every year, without fail. A yearly ritual. One wonders if these protectors of society's morality buy the cards first?
5. Impromptu lectures
In 2007, members of the Forum Against Social Evils (FASE) in Kashmir interrupted a number of dates and delivered - what we are sure were - extremely boring lectures on morality and "foreign conspiracies". If love is a conspiracy, then we think we should just accept it!
6. Thrashing lovers found celebrating
A couple of years ago, in Muzaffarnagar, couples who were out celebrating their love at a restaurant were pulled out and thrashed by the Shiv Sena. Funnily, enough the Sena had also issued a circular(!) urging people not to celebrate V-Day.
7. Cops turn moral police
This monstrosity happened in 2010 when cops imposed Section 144 - reserved usually for riots and large protests - to prevent V-Day celebrations in Pune. Section 144 prohibits the assembly of five or more persons or holding of public meetings. When will the Indian police stop acting on behalf of idiotic politicians and irrational loons, we wonder?
8. Forcibly "marrying off" siblings
Yes, it's bizarre. But then no one has ever accused the moral police of being too smart. On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Bajrang Dal activists forcibly married off siblings, as they mistook them for a "couple" in Hyderabad.
9. Exercise as punishment
A couple in Bhuvaneshwar were made to do sit-ups after found holding hands in a park in 2013 by the Bajrang Dal. This one's almost well-meaning, if you forget about the threats that followed.
10. "Valentine's Day is a Western conspiracy. Love isn't Indian"
You would have heard this a number of times. Perhaps the only thing that conservative purveyors of morality - both Hindu and Muslim - agree on is that Valentine’s Day is a Western conspiracy to tarnish Indian values and culture. As far as conspiracy theories go, this is probably the dumbest.