The Hindu Mahasabha’s call to its volunteers to marry off lovers found celebrating Valentine’s Day in the city’s parks, restaurants and movie halls has sparked off reactions across the city.
From open letters and love parades to social media undertakings calling “all sorts” of couples “struggling” to get married to simply show up at the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha office on Saturday, the city is doing it all.
“Love is in the air! The season of love is here and we believe that love is one of the best feelings. It is the one emotion that keeps the whole world together. We believe that the best way to answer hatred is with love. We don’t even hate the haters, because love is above all. So to all the haters out there, Give love a try!” says the invitation to the National Students’ Union of India’s “Love Parade,” that will take place in campuses across the country.
“ Shud Desi Romance — Everyone weds Anyone”, whose Facebook page sports a couple of smiling men in saffron and the tagline — “Get ready to marry!”, has invited struggling lovers to come dressed in their wedding best to the Hindu Mahasabha office. The address and the nearest metro station have also been mentioned in the wedding invite-like flyer.
Speaking under the nom de guerre of Laxmi Bai , one of the organisers told The Hindu that though people have been asked to gather in wedding finery, women have been asked to wear khaki shorts resembling the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh uniform.
“I think the point of this protest is also about being creative. And it’s been incredible how people have caught on... The target here is not just the Mahasabha, but the broader right-wing assertion that has been so aggressive whether it is ‘Love Jihad’ or forced conversions,” said Laxmi Bai, adding that the police haven’t been informed.
An “open letter” by some Jawaharlal Nehru University students also carries a promise to turn up at the Mahasabha looking for answer.
“It has come to our notice that you promise to marry off anyone who openly expresses their love, whether on the streets or on Facebook. Since you have taken on this gigantic task of marrying so many people on a single day, we would like you to answer some questions that have ‘unnaturally’ crept into our heads as a result of westernisation,” states the letter, asking whether the Mahasabha will be open to marrying off same sex couples.
“Will you acknowledge their love for each other, repeal Section 377? Or will you send them to jail or Baba Ramdev? These are just some of the questions that we have for you. For further clarifications, we will be reaching your Delhi office. With us will be a boy who is gay and holds his boyfriend’s hand with love and affection. There will be a Dalit boy too with his upper caste lover. And of course, some Hindu-Muslim couples. Finally, there will also be those who have been shamed and ostracised in the name of Indian traditions of love and honour, but are still alive and fighting.”
Mahasabha chief C.P. Kaushik told The Hindu that his organisation is merely trying to rectify the annual militant protests on Valentine’s Day by the Bajrang Dal and Sri Rama Sene.
“The protesters are welcome if they come in peace. We are priests of love and have organised inter-caste and inter-religious marriages since 1925 as we believe all Indians are Hindus and are equal. Humans are not animals who can change partners at will. We are merely trying to promote classical Indian love,” he said.