Love is in the Kudla Air! However, it’s a Sombre Valentine’s Day Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic & Hijab/Saffron Shawl Row!

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Love is in the Kudla Air! However, it’s a Sombre Valentine’s Day Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic & Hijab/Saffron Shawl Row!

Mangaluru: It’s once again that time of the year, where controversies involving young lovers and activists of certain political saffron parties are nothing new, but the feeling of ill-will is usually at its peak on February 14, Valentine’s Day. St Valentine merely wanted to spread the message of love, but lately, this day has become one of possible conflicts in India, as well as Mangaluru. As lovers eagerly await to greet their Valentines on February 14, there’s some not-so-pleasing news for them. Roses, one of the essential gifts on Valentine’s Day, are a little higher than last year, and also prices of Teddy Bears and other Valentine’s Day tidbits are quite outrageous. But no matter what, lovers who really want to celebrate this day, have gone ahead and bought the stuff, forgetting the price matter.

If Sri Rama Sena Supremo Pramod Muthalik is dead against observing Valentine’s Day, that hasn’t stopped those who believe in V-Day, and are all geared up to mark this Day, buying roses, gifts, chocolates, cards etc, except “Pink Chaddies?” for their dear ones. And for that matter, if you look at the flower shops and gift shops in Mangaluru, they are all making brisk business from flower arrangements, teddy bears, greeting cards, novelties, gift items, chocolates/cupcakes etc etc., but on a lower scale, unlike the previous years. As lovers listen to their heart’s whisper and say those three little words with roses and gifts, V-Day spells megabucks for bizland. Big time parties are excluded at luxury hotels, pubs and lounges which have been quite reluctant in hosting any V-Day events, with a little fear of the saffron groups creating trouble, after saffron outfit Bajrang Dal stated that they do not encourage or tolerate Valentine’s Day celebrations or functions since it is a western culture and not Indian tradition.

Also, the toned-down celebrations are due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the hijab and saffron shawl row in the region, according to food and beverage industry stakeholders. “We have planned simple celebrations at our restaurant, due to the pandemic, as well as hijab and saffron shawl row,” said a lounge owner. Damodar Shetty, partner, Prestige Hotels, Balmatta, said that they have curated a special Valentine Week menu, starting from Monday. “The special menu has both food and beverages. It will run for a week,” said Damodar.

The watering holes in the city have limited the day with only Valentine’s lunch and dinner. “Earlier, our establishment used to have Valentine’s Day themed parties every year. However, we have not planned it this year, since the situation is not favourable. We may do it only from next year,” said the manager of a star hotel in the City. ”We wish we were in Mumbai, our hometown, where V-Day celebrations are simply fun and frolic. Here we have been traumatized by saffron groups and not many of our friends want to take a chance to get hurt while having good times. Telling us what to do and what not to do by the members of these outfits is just bul@#@#?. We are planning on having a good time, so also a bunch of our revellers at our apartment. Happy Valentine’s Day to all who believe in it” said two dental students who were buying goodies for the V-Day party.

The shops selling flowers and gift hampers added that though they had prepared Valentine’s Day special gift hampers, the response is not encouraging. The person in charge of Iris flower shop, Karangalpady in the City said, “We have Valentine’s Day red rose bouquets, chocolate boxes and soft toys. However, so far the response from the customers is poor, compared to previous years. But we are happy with the sale since we have not made more flower arrangements unlike previous years”. Meanwhile, the Mangaluru city Commissionerate has deployed additional police personnel in places frequented by youngsters and couples. Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar, said that KSRP platoons have been deployed. “People are requested not to create any law and order issues. Strict action will be taken against them,” he added.

Like the prices of ‘Kumbalakai’ goes up during ‘Ayudha Puja’- the prices of roses go up during V-Day. Also, since this year millions of roses have been exported to Western countries, there has been a shortage of roses here, and that’s the reason they have jacked up the prices. Flower arrangements range from Rs 1000 – Rs 15,000- and there was one flower arrangement ordered and ready to go, costing around Rs 11,000. I guess this man truly loves his wife or girlfriend to spend Rs 10K on a red roses flower arrangement. “Love birds do not mind paying around two times the usual price of flowers,” giggled another florist at a popular florist shop in town. However, he said many avoid purchasing flowers due to the anti-Valentine’s squads and Moral-police personnel. The moral police brigade on that day is keeping an eye, and youngsters hesitate to purchase flowers to avoid problems. Last year there had been protests by the saffron group in the city, claiming V-Day as Western culture”.

Listening to these florist comments, I thought to myself if these so-called V-Day haters are claiming V-Day as Western culture, how come they are wearing western outfits (Wrangler/Levis jeans pants & Tommy Hilfiger/CK polo or T-shirts) while burning those V-Day cards or organizing press meets. Going around the city I saw quite a few young and old people shopping for V-Day cards, roses and other V-Day novelties. But the shopping spree and craze for V-Day items have died down lately, with the present generation using SMSs, email and e-Cards to convey their V-Day greetings. Since there are restrictions from college management on students not to celebrate V-Day, also threats from saffron groups not to accept western cultures, and also many youngsters opting to send V-Day greetings through mobile text messages, emails and e-Cards has very much affected flower shop businesses. But many flower shops still want to continue and support various traditions that people are still used to, including V-Day, even though they don’t make big profits. “V-Day has been good, but could have been better, if not for all these anti-elements,” said a flower shop staff near Kankanady.

Suhan, an engineering student who had bought a mega-size V-Day card at Jerosa Company, has also planned to take his sweetheart for a “candle-light” dinner at a cosy and elegant restaurant. Alwyn, an IT employee also had bought a mega-size V-Day card-he and his would-be life partner had fallen in love one year ago while working together at the same IT firm, and he has plans to marry his fiancee next year. He had the V-Day card wrapped in a red foil paper, to be presented to her when she comes down to Mangaluru soon since she is employed in Bengaluru. He has plans to take her to the beach and spend a cosy and lovely evening at a pub or nice restaurant.

Shy but bold, Melannie who didn’t mind sharing her comments was all set to hand over her V-Day gift to her hubby Darren this evening. She had bought heart-shaped miniature pillows for her husband, although her husband doesn’t believe in V-Day- this is her first V-Day gift to her hubby since they got married last year. What’s awaiting her as a V-Day from Darren will be a surprise-could be a glittering jewel or a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant or it could be just a hug and a smooch!

To sum it all, Valentine’s Day is traditionally a way to celebrate the romance in your life, but it’s also a good way to show friends how much you value them. There are as many ways to do this as there are friendships, and no way is right or wrong. With some friends, you might give a card to say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” while with others you might go all out to a big party. There are different ways to celebrate V-Day- pick one and celebrate. Happy Valentine’s Day!

I end this column with the modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it should be you.

Team Mangalorean wishes you all a Happy and Romantic VALENTINE’S DAY!

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