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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 15:47 GMT
India takes Valentine's Day to heart

couple in front of card A huge Valentine's card on Bombay's Chaupati beach

By Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

In India, Valentine's Day hype has truly caught on in the last few years, and a whole new industry is now established to market "love".

Remember, Cupid rhymes with stupid
Bombay Times headline
Valentine's Day celebrations and marketing gimmicks have, according to many, reached fever pitch this year. One Indian newspaper described the effect as "love being in the window display of superstores".

Proponents are undeterred by protests in some parts of the country by those who see such occasions as yet another attempt to pollute the Indian culture and value system with what they see as western influence.

Love blitz

Everything from mobile phones to mood candles dance academies, websites, ballpoint pens, and even bottled mineral water is being sold in the name of love.

heart decorations India has taken Valentine's day to heart
The Bombay Times perhaps sums up the Valentine fever best in its headline which reads: "Remember, cupid rhymes with stupid."

Being the commercial capital of India and also the country's biggest metropolis, Bombay has taken the lead in Valentine's Day celebrations and the marketing blitz associated with it.

Some Valentine's special offers are either bizarre or practical, depending on how one looks at them.

men signing Amorous men sign the massive Valentine's Day card in Bombay
For example, one deal suggests you pick up a brown teflon-coated frying pan for your beloved.

A prominent city restaurant has offered 50 free lunches for the best Valentine's messages, while a prominent ice-cream maker is trying to get free publicity and an entry into the record books by putting up the biggest Valentine's Day card on Chaupati beach in Bombay.

A TV channel is taking a giant float of the epic ship, the Titanic, to different city colleges. Young sweethearts can pose on it like filmstars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Rose and Jack in the Oscar-winning film.

Sporadic opposition

There have been protests in cities like Delhi by groups of Hindu nationalists who oppose Valentine's Day celebrations on the grounds that it is a western concept and an affront to more modest Indian cultural values.

But such opposition is sporadic and does not enjoy any mass support.

Even those who are not necessarily taken in by the Valentine's Day hype concede that India could do with more "love feasts" like these - if for no other reason than that it is one of the truly secular events in the country's social calendar.

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See also:
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In pictures: Love is all around
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Love's labour found
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Kuwaiti MP denounces 'dangerous' St Valentine
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Happy Valentine's from Mars
04 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Bangalore's Valentine bloom
12 Feb 99 |  UK
Valentine e-rotica
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