From being convicted for raping a minor girl to distributing booklets about how Valentine’s Day should be observed as Parent’s Worship Day, Asaram’s lifestyle has been highly celebrated among the Hindu fringe groups. Clashes between couples celebrating Valentine’s Day on the streets and the right-wing groups like the Anti-Romeo Squad seem outdated when you have a rape accused man declaring their devotional fanatics around Valentine’s Day. Oh! The irony.
Back in 2012, Asaram’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) provided a new alternative to the chaos created by the Hindu moral police, which people gradually started to accept as the brand new revolution against the West and its “cuture”.
Yogi Vedanta Seva Samiti, an organization run by him, as a form of protest against Valentine’s Day symbolizes this day as a day to worship parents, rather than celebrate love. This was practiced by saffron brigadiers, something widely known as ‘Indianisation of Valentine’s Day’ every year on 14 February.
Self-styled god-man, Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani talks about the evils celebrating Valentine’s Day may bring. His followers have not only made these preaching a mandate but also institutionalised them. His teachings include complete Hindutva-centered perspective where adoption of Western culture artefacts is ‘corruption of morality’. Yogi Vedanta Seva Samiti, an organisation run by him, as a form of protest against Valentine’s Day symbolises this day as a day to worship parents, rather than celebrate love. This was practiced by saffron brigadiers, something widely known as ‘Indianisation of Valentine’s Day’ every year on 14 February.
Limiting Women’s Autonomy
It all starts from the bigots who spread the word that celebrating love between young couples is harmful to our Indian culture. Further, according to them, such celebration encourages pre-marital sex and gives rise to incidents such as rape and other atrocities. Mind you, rape accused ministers and god-men are telling the society how to prevent rape! While you might think that such a mandate is gender neutral, however, such preaching is directed towards controlling women’s sexuality, by curbing their freedom to choose when or whom to love or have sexual intimacy with.
And since such days celebrate women’s independence to defy societal barricades and gender stereotypes, both the Hindu fringe groups or god-men like Asaram try to stop them from deciding their partners.
Love In The Time Of Hindutva
For some, Valentine’s Day may be a day to embrace their love and celebrate their togetherness, for others, it might be like any other day. For the commercials, it is another season to increase the sale of greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, and other expensive gifts.
In India, however, it is the day for fundamentalist religious groups to clash with such celebration, where they find any excuse to beat up young couples on the streets. The people targeted are often students, who would visit public parks and other places to spend time with their loved ones. These groups also target inter-caste and Hindu-Muslim couples thereby prohibiting any form of transgression, even within the existing hierarchies of caste, class, gender, ethnicity or religion.
These groups also target inter-caste and Hindu-Muslim couples thereby prohibiting any form of transgression, even within the existing hierarchies of caste, class, gender, ethnicity or religion.
And now, we have another preacher, a self-styled god-man, not quite different from these extremists, with an unprecedented ethos, putting up posters to highlight that Valentine’s Day is a disgrace to our culture. There are several campaigns running to create awareness of such strange mindsets among youth, so that 14th February can be declared as “Matru-Pitru Pujan Divas”.
In an era, where we are fed with distorted history, this point of worshiping parents on Valentine’s Day is not only quiet weird but also ethically low. This is just another way to distance people from history and create a popular narrative among students. Using ‘Indian culture’ as a veil is quite a popular way, among right-wing activists to stand against Valentine’s Day. Be it burning card shops, beating couples in the park or even getting them forcefully married, are some common tactics among them.
Whatever be your choice of celebration, one cannot coerce people into celebrating the day in a particular manner, or prohibiting them from celebrating through love for intimate partners. One can certainly choose to celebrate the day with their parents, expressing their love and respect towards them, but to police others’ ways of celebration, is a form of curbing individual freedom and choice.
Toxic memes and defaming Valentine’s day are passé. Do not let a rape convict tell you how to celebrate love and prohibit violence against women. To ask people to observe the day as Parent Worship Day also implies that parents cannot be wrong or mistaken or their parenting cannot be toxic. Even if it is, they still need to be celebrated, despite their misdoings. I wonder, whether parents from the queer community will still be celebrated by these saffron goons, or parents too need to maintain caste, class, religious and sexuality boundaries, for being deemed enough to be worshipped!
Featured Image Source: Hindu Jagruti