Is V-Day celebration destroying Indian Culture?

Valentine’s Day – a day of love in whole world, when young lovers exchange flowers, gifts and cards. Valentine’s Day is popular among young. Global business made this popular in many non-western countries, particularly in India where I grew up. India is a traditional country but young people like western culture. But let’s not deny the fact that some Indians think it is their culture or religion to celebrate V-Day.
In Malaysia, 60 percent of the population is Muslim and they are prohibited from celebrating Valentine’s Day. In other Muslim country like Pakistan, authorities have warned media to avoid broadcasting romance-themed content on Valentine’s Day. There are many more countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia where Valentine’s Day celebrations are strictly prohibited. For unmarried couples, if they show love on this day, they will be sent straight to jail.
In India, Hindu activists such as the Shri Ram Sena and Bajrang Dal make raids on parks, restaurant, etc to check unmarried couples. When an unmarried couple is found, they are “purified” by colouring their face black, and even beaten. According to them this is a western practice, and promotes “lust not love”.
Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray in the Saamna newspaper said, “This shameless festival has been celebrated by our young people. But it is totally contrary to Indian culture. We should focus on good work, good thoughts, love and harmony in our society, and not let such Western culture spoil us.
Another activist Vinayak Raut told Reuters, “Valentine’s Day is] different from our Hindu culture and is corrupting the minds of young teenagers.”
I was in India in 2012 and saw on TV channels how young couple were caught by Hindu activists and humiliated. How can anyone be proud of India when you cannot live freely or show your feelings? How can traditional Indian values be destroyed by this? Would it not be better to focus on India’s real problem, like its poverty, its view on woman values, democratic rights, etc.?
An Indian Hindu nationalist party has warned that unmarried couples spotted out together on Valentine’s Day will be “forcefully married off”. How can anyone be forced to marry someone else in a democratic country?
If you look at India’s ancient culture, for example Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh that consist of ancient sculptures that explicitly depict sexual foreplay and intercourse. There is also the Kama Sutra text which is very old and explains very explicitly how to achieve pleasure between man and woman. Finally, why is Krishna worshipped, a Hindu god who had 16,108 wives and unlimited girlfriends?
One young couple I talked to said, “It’s our day, how can anyone be against love? Why do they want to disturb us?”
Another student said, “If my parents don’t disapprove of Valentine’s Day, why do political parties have a problem? What culture are they talking about? We lost our Indian culture way back. In ancient times our culture was the Kama Sutra — why didn’t anyone stop it back then?
We should all love and respect each other 365 days each year, so why is one specific day forbidden? Love can never destroy anyone’s culture or tradition. I love Indian culture and traditions, but I can never accept that people use culture and traditions as an argument for their old-fashioned opinions.
By Dr. Sonia