Hard-Line Hindus Protest Valentine’s Day

Gavin Rabinowitz, AP, February 13, 2008

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, hard-line Hindu activists in India aren’t feeling the love. They say Valentine’s Day celebrations are part of a Western cultural invasion. Here, protesters in New Delhi shout “Down with Valentine!” on Wednesday, the day before the holiday.

“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.

But they appear to be fighting a losing battle, particularly in India’s cities, where a booming economy has brought with it all the trappings of Western culture, including McDonald’s, MTV and of course, Valentine’s Day.

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Still, a handful of hard-liners threatened to disrupt celebrations.

“Our volunteers will check parks, hotels and restaurants and swoop upon young lovers found walking hand-in-hand,” said Vijay Tiwari, a Shiv Sena activist in Lucknow.

In recent years, there have been several cases of couples being attacked while seeking privacy in local parks.

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