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Cupid triumphs over 'culture police'



Five times MP from Jaipur, Girdharilal Bhargawa, and his wife, Malti, celebrating Valentine's Day, exchange garlands at a special function in Jaipur on Saturday for those who have completed 50 years of married life. — Photo: Gopal Sunger

NEW DELHI, FEB. 14. Cupid triumphed over moral police hawks on Valentine's Day today.

Tens of thousands of people across the country disregarded rhetoric and threats to celebrate love and togetherness.

Amid calls by various organisations, the Shiv Sena foremost among them, for a ban on celebrating a day they call ``alien to Indian culture,'' love-struck couples exchanged flowers, cards, gifts and messages.

In Pune, where the Sena had called for a bandh in protest against the celebrations, activists of the party were detained this morning as a preventive measure.

``Elsewhere in the city, minor incidents of the Shiv Sainiks intimidating shop keepers and vendors selling V-Cards were reported,'' the Joint Commissioner of Police, Maruti Maheshgauri, said.

The Sainiks had picketed various colleges in the city to discourage students from celebrating the day.

In Mumbai, which saw heavy security arrangements in the wake of the Sena threats, the festivities were by and large peaceful.

Shops selling V-day paraphernalia, hotels and restaurants and mobile operators did brisk business aided by some aggressive marketing and media-hype during the build-up to the day.

In Delhi, advocacy groups seeking to cash in on the popularity of the day, especially among the youth, came up with novel ideas to publicise their cause.

The Members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals displayed a ``giant balloon heart'' symbolising a healthy heart to urge people to shun meat-eating that led to ``clogged arteries and heart diseases.''

"Bahu Divas"

The day was celebrated as "Bahu Divas" (Daughter-in-law's Day) by Antarjyoti, an NGO, which organised a conference on dowry and female foeticide.

The "Bahu Divas' this year was dedicated to the memory of Manish Mishra, the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's grandnephew, ``who gave up his life to save the honour of his unknown sisters,'' the Antarjyoti president, Himendra Thakur, said.

Sugam, another NGO, organised a blood donation camp at the Delhi University with the help of the AIIMS and the Indian Red Cross Society.

In Jaipur, eight doddering couples tied the knot again after more than 50 years in a special wedding.

It was the second successive year when the programme, organised by the Rashtriya Yuva Chetana Parishad, was held. Like last year, 11 couples who had completed 50 years of marital bliss were selected for the unique wedding.

``It feels good, refreshes our memories. Hope they will also provide honeymoon trips for future participants,'' joked Mahendra Kumar Patni, 68, who attended the function.

``Going by the increasing rate of divorces, it will soon become difficult to find couples who have lived together so long,'' said the parishad president, Mitroday Gandhi.

Sena, Bajrang Dal stage demonstrations

In Madhya Pradesh, the Sena and the Bajrang Dal staged demonstrations at several places. There were reports of damage to three hotels in Jabalpur and couples being insulted at many spots.

Forty-five Shiv Sainiks were arrested in this connection.

In Bhopal, motorbike-borne Sena and Dal workers wearing saffron scarves went about raising slogans since morning.

``Our activists have made bonfires of greeting cards at many places across Madhya Pradesh and taught a lesson to those youths celebrating this symbol of western aberration,'' the Sena's State unit spokesman, Pramod Chugh, said.

In Aurangabad, activists of the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, students' wing of the Sena took out a symbolic funeral procession of St. Valentine and burnt the saint's effigy.

Peaceful day in Hyderabad

Hyderabad had a peaceful day, with right-wing groups, which have in previous years targeted the city's "love-joints,' choosing not to play spoilsport this year.

In Kolkata, there was a morning jam in SMS traffic on mobile networks caused by frantic exchange of love notes and greetings.

V-Day with bonfire of cards

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parisad activists today took out a procession in the main thoroughfares of Bhubaneswar protesting against the celebrations.

Shouting slogans, activists burnt cards, posters and banners at many places and warned serious consequences for those celebrating the day which they claimed was ``against the Jagannath culture of the State.''

— UNI, PTI

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