Valentine’s Day, that perfectly innocent holiday – guilty of nothing more sinister than making single people feel bad, and coupled people feel pressured – has become a huge source of debate in the Indian media these past few weeks after the radical conservative Hindu group Sri Rama Sena announced that they will, among other things, “attack Indian couples marking Valentine’s Day“. Which makes the two-dozen boxes of candy hearts I threw in my bag at the last minute officially contraband in some circles.
I’ve dreaded the arrival of many a Valentine’s Day, but not out of fear for my physical safety. In the state of Karnataka, of which the city of Bangalore is the capital, the Sri Rama Sena group and their leader, Pramod Muthalik, have not only been targeting couples showing any form of public affection; the group has issued warnings to restaurants, clubs, bars and the general public that anyone found to be celebrating Valentine’s Day will be dealt with “appropriately”, meaning that perpetrators of even the gentlest of these innocent wordless communications can fear being beaten on the spot.
Public displays of affection are generally unwelcome anywhere in India, but this extremist stance has proved to be even more unwelcome. There has been a huge public outcry in the face of these threats and harassment. The people of India have mobilized to laugh in the face of such radically conservative leanings by mailing pairs of pink panties “Chaddis” to the Shiv Sena headquarters. This mobilization was instigated via a simple blog, ironically attributed to “Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose and Forward Women.” In just over three days the office received more than 40,000 pair. As a further act of communal defiance, restaurants and stores have gone out of their way to stage over the top red and white displays and table tops, setting the stage for countless acts of sugar coated civil disobedience to take place.
Yesterday, Friday the 13th, the government announced that they were going to deploy and extra 1800 officers in Bangalore to guard the safety of the public. By the end of the day they’d taken it one step further by arresting not only Muthalik, but also 140 of his thug followers, taking them all into what was called “preventive custody.” The rest of the city will celebrate with a frilly pink passion. We have reservations at a restaurant at the Leela Palace. I’m wearing red. We might even hold hands.
Xoxox ~ Pam :)