| Shiv Sena activists garland a picture of Kalpana Chawla in Mumbai on Friday. The party has decided to rename Valentine’s Day as Kalpana Chawla Day. (Reuters)
Mumbai, Feb. 14: No Sena can put out the love that is lit by Archies’ candles.
Even as the Shiv Sena tried to go on its annual rampage on Valentine’s Day, the city’s eligible, heedless of the threat to “Indian culture”, submerged themselves in soft toys, heart-shaped balloons, trinkets and other love’s accessories.
Amid tight security, though. Apprehensive of Sena strikes, the government had posted policemen at several citadels of love — Archies’ and other card and gift shops, colleges and restaurants.
Archies’, which has kept its V-Day decor understated for the same reason, had hired private security guards as well. Due to a Sena injunction, Satyam Collection, another major card-and-gift outlet in the city, said the sale of cards has been low. “We couldn’t use the words Valentine’s Day on the cards. We had to use Prem Divas, like the past two years,” said a store official.
A group of Shiv Sainiks barged into a gift shop in suburban Borivli and torched greeting cards and posters to register their protest against the “influence of western culture on youths on the occasion of Valentine’s Day”, but police said that was the only incident of violence. “Otherwise it has been peaceful,” police said. But nothing has dampened the spirits of Cupid’s followers. The festivities have taken on the dimensions of an important Indian festival, even if its critics — the Sena and the Sangh parivar, mainly — still view it as an upstart cultural implant that subverts Indian tradition.
Even the local trains looked different. Teeny-boppers dressed at their fashionable bests perked up jam-packed compartments. A college-goer, perfectly turned out in platforms, knee-hugging hipsters, cropped sleeveless cowl-neck top and carefully windswept hair, struggled with the huge tape recorder she was carrying for an evening party. Another girl had trouble trying to hold on to a huge Archies’ packet.
Globus, a trendy movie hall in upmarket Bandra, had a young crowd milling about to watch Khushi, a bubble-gum romance starring Kareena Kapoor.
The old also fell into the enchanted circle. Many office-goers left early to keep their dates with girlfriends/boyfriends, not to mention the spouses of many years. For many of them, the destination is a candlelight dinner at a swank restaurant, if not at a five-star one.
Cupid this year had an elderly advocate on his side, too. Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal promised that he would not let any political party come between lovers and their festivities.