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In Rajasthan, Valentine’s Day is now Mother-Father Puja Day

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From 2019, government schools in Rajasthan will observe February 14 as ‘Matr-Pitr Pujan Diwas’

All over the world, Valentine’s Day may be synonymous with a celebration of romantic love. But not in Rajasthan, and certainly not from the next year. The Education Department has issued an order declaring that from 2019, all government schools will observe February 14 every year as Matr-Pitr Pujan Diwas (Mother-Father Puja Day).

The stated objective of the order is to counter the growing influence of Western culture among teenagers. The event finds a mention in the Education Department’s yearly calendar, ‘Shivira Panchang.’

Time to interact

The order, issued last week, stated that on this special day, parents would be invited to the schools where their wards would honour them. They would also get an opportunity to spend some time on the school campus and interact with teachers.

Education Minister Vasudeo Devnani had recently said in the Assembly that the decision would promote Indian culture and inculcate a sense of love in students for their parents. “Students should learn to love and respect their parents first before anyone else,” he had said.

Mr. Devnani, who pointed out that a similar event to felicitate parents was already being held annually in Chhattisgarh, had earlier courted controversy by his decisions to ‘revise’ the contents of school textbooks. It was reported that these ‘revisions’ included the removal of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s name from the textbook for Classes six to eight, and the insertion of a chapter on the Emergency.

Educationists have expressed outrage over the move. “This amounts to a forcible imposition of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s agenda under the pretext of promoting Indian culture,” said Rajiv Gupta, a retired professor of Sociology of Rajasthan University. He said the government wanted to control the mindset of youngsters by enforcing a value system opposed to democratic culture and freedom of choice.

M.I. Siddiqui of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said the teenagers studying in schools should be free to celebrate the day as they wish. “The creation of an artificial festival and its imposition in the State-run educational institutions violates all norms of democratic governance,” he said.

In the recent past, Valentine’s Day has witnessed violence and vandalism in several towns of Rajasthan. On February 14 this year, a 38-old man threw acid on a woman inside a mall in Jaipur’s Jhotwara area. The 27-year-old victim received severe burn injuries.

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 9:05:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/in-rajasthan-valentines-day-is-now-mother-father-puja-day/article23732296.ece

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