Celebrate with your Valentine and you ‘will be married’

2015-02-05 09:51

A right-wing Hindu organisation in India was slammed on Twitter today for threatening to forcibly marry off all couples found celebrating Valentine’s Day in public.

Leaders of the Hindu Mahasabha in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh warned this week that it would hold marriages for unmarried couples marking the “foreign festival” in public, the Times of India reported.

Targets would include couples holding roses or hugging in public places on February 14, the report said.

“We are not against love, but if a couple is in love, then they must get married,” the Hindu Mahasabha’s national president, Chandra Prakash Kaushik, was quoted as saying.

“India is a country where all 365 days are days for love. Why then must couples observe only February 14 as Valentine’s Day?” Kaushik said.

“If the couples claim that they need time to think about marriage, we will tell them that if they are not certain, they should not belittle love by openly going around together. We will also inform their parents,” Kaushik said.

Mahesh Chandana, a Hindu Mahasabha representative from Agra, said Hindu couples would have a Hindu marriage ceremony, while those from other faiths would first undergo a “shuddikaran” or purification ceremony.

“All residents of India are Hindus,” Chandana was quoted as saying. “Hence, the weddings will be preceded by shuddikaran.” Reponses were quick to trend on Twitter.

“If someone wants their marriage sponsored please meet Hindu Mahasabha on Valentine’s Day,” said a tweet from Preeti Sharma Menon.

“Oh wow!! Seems Hindu Mahasabha has solved my problem. Says anyone posting ‘I love you’ in social media will be married off,” Nilim Dutta tweeted.

Valentine’s Day has become popular in India over the past two decades with shops selling romantic cards, heart-shaped balloons, cuddly toys and other gifts, while flower sellers do brisk business.

But the day has also seen regular protests by Hindu hardliners, who say the celebrations threaten Indian culture and social norms.

Groups like the Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena have burnt Valentine’s Day greeting cards, attacked gift and card outlets and blackened the faces of couples romancing in parks and other places.

Uttar Pradesh police said they would be keeping keen vigil on Valentine’s Day in areas where the Hindu Mahasabha and similar groups are active.

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