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Love is a battlefield

Pink Chaddi PosterAt least it is in India. Valentine’s day has become a major cultural flashpoint here, as modern holidays clash with ancient traditions. Decrying the Western notions of amorous love and displays of affection, Hindu nationalist groups have threatened to raze shops that sell Valentine’s day gifts and beat up couples holding hands today.

While it may seem like a pretty innocuous holiday about which to raise a fuss, tensions in the major cities have been running a bit higher than normal lately due to a recent event in southern India. A group of men beat up women who were in a pub, calling them un-Indian for engaging in behavior that was as deviant as having a drink in public and dancing with men.

As an example of some of the thought processes at play, here is part of an actual comment about a Valentine’s Day news piece (from the article linked below):

There is conspiracy plotted by jehadis and christian church and have openly asked men to lure hindu girls whenever they can and after marriage convert them to their religion and have as many children as possible to increase the head count. Valentine Day is just another invention by christian church agents to lure and trap hindu girls.

Tempers have flared on all sides, and V-Day (as it is referred to here) has become a central theme. Some groups want to ban it as an indicator of a moral slide brought on by the abandonment of traditional values, while others want to elevate it as an indicator of India’s emerging acceptance of and presence on the world stage. Because of all this, we awoke to a news paper declaring that all police vacations had been canceled and the city would be on high alert all weekend.

Of course, an event like this takes on a life of its own, and a self proclaimed “Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women” has declared war on groups that attack women. They have started a campaign to send pink panties to the headquarters of the Sri Ram Sene, the organization behind the pub violence. There has been enough success thus far to earn the attention of local papers (check out the comment wars on this one) as well as the New York Times, so it will be interesting to see if this manages to get the Hindu groups’ “panties in a bundle.”

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