Despite strict warning from Hindu fringe groups, many couples smiling, walking hand-in-hand, holding bouquets of red roses or bags with gifts and wearing a smile were a common sight across cafes, eateries and streets across India on Valentine’s Day on Saturday,
Love was in the air — whether it was at Delhi’s central Connaught Place area, malls or green parks; Kolkata’s Park Street or Metro; Mumbai’s local trains, Marine Drive and Bandra Bandstand; or at Chennai’s scenic Marina Beach and packed cinema halls.
In Delhi, despite Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha’s warning that their volunteers would have couples spliced up if found in an act of “indecent display of love” in public space, youngsters were undaunted in moving out with their beloved on the occasion.
“Why should I not go out, not hold my beloved’s hand, and enjoy myself? My country gives me the freedom to do that and there’s nothing ‘indecent’ about it,” said 28-year-old Lalit Wadhwa, who splashed Rs.10,000 on planning a Valentine’s Day surprise for his ladylove.
Dressed in wedding attire, a group of 150 protestors from Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union (JNUSU) and from different organisations protested against the “moral policing” of the the right-wing organisation on Valentine’s Day, while the Hindu Mahasabha, on its official website, claimed marrying off some couples.
In Odisha, scores of young couples faced the wrath of some fringe outfits indulging in moral policing by protesting against the V-Day celebrations, and some activists of the Kalinga Sena and the Bajrang Dal even vandalised a mall in Bhubaneswar.
Nevertheless, the celebrations were on in full swing.
Most of Delhi-NCR’s popular cafes, pubs and eateries — Schengen: Deli- Bistro-Pub, The Hiatus, Vault Cafe, The Big Chill Cafe, Punjab Grill and The Liquor Warehouse, offering special couple deals of wining and dining for those in love, were almost fully booked for dinner. These were priced anything between Rs.2,500 and more for a couple.
In Gurgaon’s Kingdom Of Dreams, there were lots of young and newly married couples dressed in their best, watching live musicals and strolling around to soak in the sun.
The flower business also saw an upswing on the ‘day of love’ like every year. Pawan Gadia, CEO (Retail and Online), Ferns N Petals, told IANS that they have witnessed an increase of 35 percent in their online sales and of over 20 percent in their offline sales for Valentine’s Day this time.
“For florists, occasions like Valentine’s Day are big festivals. People send out flowers always and rise is the king. Almost 90 percent of V-Day orders are for red roses,” said Gadia, adding that cakes, soft toys, cards and their special offering — a pre-printed message in a bottle, were popular accompaniments with flowers this year.
Mahi of Delhi-based florist Regalia Decors said that one stick of rose, which would usually cost Rs.15-20, is sold at anything between Rs.60-80 on V-Day. Yet, there’s always a profit margin of 100 percent on this day,” she said, adding that people are willing to spend Rs.8,000 to Rs.10,000 on a single arrangement of 100 roses.
Days ahead of the festival, fashion brands pitched their products for V-Day gifting. Whether its jewellery, perfume, spa treatments, clothes or gift vouchers for girls, or a watch, accessories or experiential treats for men — a lot of people indulge in making their beloved feel special.
Even hotels all across the country dished out special deals and weekend offers to attract tourists and travel-savvy couples a memorable Valentine’s Day stay.(IANS)