The Bajrang Dal (the Brigade of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god) is a militant, Hindu nationalist organization in India. It is famous for its cow protection activities (i.e., saving cows, which are considered sacred in Hinduism, from slaughter). As we saw in Chapter 1, the Bajrang Dal is also famous for its campaign against celebrations of Valentine’s Day, which it considers to be a Western conspiracy to destroy Hindu culture. Members of the organization hold demonstrations every year against Valentine’s Day and throw rotting tomatoes at couples who display affection publicly. They have been known to burn down shops selling Valentine’s Day cards and destroy the stands of florists selling flowers on Valentine’s Day (Ghosh, 2012). The militant political religiosity of the Bajrang Dal and other Hindu religious groups is a nationalistic reaction against the perceived evils of Western sexual capitalism and its globalization, as well as the diffusion of “Western” cultural products like advertising, pornography, and erotica—and their perceived underlying decadent values—to all corners of our interconnected world. The actions of these militant groups may also be a repudiation of Western ideals of love and sex, in which sexuality has, over time, become a secularized right that is completely cut off from its sacred, religious roots. The anti-Valentine’s Day demonstrations are thus a rejection of Western gods and goddesses of love: Eros (Cupid) and Aphrodite (Venus), whose roles in Western mythology are different from that of the gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology.
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