Valentine's Day' sullies Hindu ways'

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The Independent Online

Indians opened their newspapers yesterday to learn that the most flamboyant exponent of Hindu cultural revanchism has demanded the abolition of Valentine's Day.

Indians opened their newspapers yesterday to learn that the most flamboyant exponent of Hindu cultural revanchism has demanded the abolition of Valentine's Day.

In company with blue jeans, Disney cartoons, satellite television and much else, Valentine's Day has insinuated itself into the subcontinent over the past few years. But now Balasaheb Thackeray, the Hindu chauvinist strongman of Bombay politics and founder of the Shiv Sena party, has called on his co-religionists to launch a counter-attack.

"Citizens concerned about our culture should work together to disrupt this chaotic crassness," the former cartoonist wrote in his party's newspaper, Saamna. "These foreign-inspired things are sullying our culture ... Our culture teaches us to love good work, good thoughts and good people all the time, unlike the Valentine's Day culture that espouses love for one day in a year. What are we supposed to do the rest of the year? Swat flies?"

Mr Thackeray's outpouring provoked groans of ennui across the country. It followed demands by other extremist Hindu organisations to ban birthday cakes and beauty pageants and substitute collective family prayer for honeymoons. In December a little-known outfit called Hindu Jagran Manch called for a ban on New Year festivities.

At the time the Hindustan Timessaid: "The Sangh Parivar [the Hindu nationalist umbrella organisation] has once again shown that it needs to 'get a life' ... One can already see the next item on their hit list: the Western-style lavatory ..."

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