Parampara Pe Charcha: Inside the Bajrang Dal’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Counselling Sessions

Realising that millennial lovers are hopelessly soft, the Bajrang Dal is offering counselling sessions on why Valentine’s Day is a greater threat to our country than chowmein and women with cell phones. Anti-love activists are busy convincing the youth that paintings of Mughal kings smelling flowers is proof that Rose Day is celebrated only by anti-nationals.

It’s mid-February, aka that time of the year when we gear up for the inevitable onslaught of mush. Jio Mobile announces a special babu-shona discount on goodnight calls, debates ensue over which is the greatest rom-com of all time – Love Actually or When Harry Met Sally, and your Instagram scroll is overflowing with bad poetry and #ForeverAlone memes.

And as you begin to feel all that love all around you, the mostly jobless Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad get into action. This is their only chance at relevance and they do everything in their power to make their presence felt. In the past, the spirit of the VHP and the Dal’s approach has been to seize baby Cupid by the diaper and give him two tight slaps. Attacking gift shops and destroying life-sized teddy bears, and making couples do sit-ups has been their modus operandi.

But this is an election year, and our sanskari squad has decided to take a gentler approach. Realising that millennial and Gen-Z lovers are hopelessly soft, the VHP and Bajrang Dal will now be offering counselling sessions on exactly why Valentine’s Day is a greater threat to our country’s future than chowmein and cell phones.

You’ve got to hand it to their marketing departments. The Dal and the VHP have swiftly learned to speak the language of a demographic who have en masse adopted “pyaar ek dhokha hai” as a life mantra. They’ve already kicked off the anti-Valentine’s proceedings by burning greeting cards, and made a case for why St Valentine himself was really not that great. They are in fact looking for a substitute, somebody who can become the poster boy of anti-love. Just the way Christmas is now Good Governance Day, Valentine’s Day will soon be celebrated as Matru Pitru Divas. Does it really matter if this is the brainchild of Great Great Asaram Bapu? Obviously not, since the rape allegations against him are definitely part of a big bad conspiracy.     

But that’s all part of the bigger plan. This year, the focus is on some good old heart-to-heart counselling. And here is what unfolded during this session of Parampara Pe Charcha.

Upon entering the session, we were greeted by a trendy chalkboard sign that reads “Bajrang Dal x VHP Pop-Up Space, Stag Entry Free”. Aside from a few bruised specimens who had been abducted from a park and dragged to the counselling centre, most of the millennials showed up only for free chai and samosas.  

In one corner the Dal had put up a makeshift mandap with a life-sized poster of Salman Khan. Aratis are held every morning and evening, and the Dal is even handing out saffron polo shirts marked Being (A Single) Human. “Only if every boy vowed to be a virgin like Salman Khan, we would not have this Valentine’s Day problem,” said Nafrat Lal, head of the Dal’s special cell called Paapi Pyaar.

In the past, the spirit of the VHP and the Dal’s approach has been to seize baby Cupid by the diaper and give him two tight slaps.

But Sallu Bhai is not the Dal’s only star. After a few minutes of mingling and taking selfies with VHP celebrity Praveen Togadia, who was honoured with the Bajrang Bhushan award for Most FIRs Filed Against (Solo), we were treated to a performance of “Romeo and Jyotika” — the sanskari take on Shakespeare. When Romeo professes his love beneath Hindustani nari Jyotika’s balcony, he is immediately caught and thrashed by Dal vigilantes. This cutting-edge interactive play, to debut at NCPA on Valentine’s Day, invites audience members to join in and throw chappals, stones, and rotten fruits at Romeo.

“Wow, what better way to celebrate V-Day? Who needs a girlfriend when you can beat the shit out of random strangers instead?” cried Anand Akela, a third-year law student with a tomato in his hand and a manic gleam in his eye. By this time, a forbidding uncle holding an orange trident stood behind Jyotika as she tied a rakhi to Romeo, who was bleeding profusely onstage. The crowd cheered wildly.

Then came Professor Yadav from the Vivek Agnihotri College of History, who showed paintings of Mughal kings smelling flowers, as proof that Rose Day is celebrated only by anti-nationals. He was followed by a fiery JNU reject who had translated Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto into shudh Sanskrit, to teach young people about the evils of consumer-driven Western holidays. The lucky attendees were able to purchase a signed copy of his book for ₹899.

Unfortunately, they were promptly set on fire by a guest speaker from the Karni Sena, who insisted that burning was the only known use for books. As a riot broke out between the charged-up Dal enthusiasts and the fire spread to the stage, our intrepid team of reporters made a run for it — but we managed to grab our exclusive gift bags, which contained all the essentials: A convenient fold-up hockey stick for hitting, a small calendar that goes directly from February 13th to February 15th, and a thoughtful hanky and some lotion for dry skin sufferers.

Kahini Iyer

This article was originally published in Arre