Mumbai, Feb 14 (IANS) Youngsters in Mumbai and other places in Maharashtra celebrated Valentine's Day by openly exchanging flowers and gifts and headed out for some fun at multiplexes and malls as the right-wing Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) lay low.
Dressed in their V-Day best, young boys and girls made a beeline for restaurants, fast-food centres and wayside eateries, giving a Valentine's Day treat to their loved ones.
The Cinemax multiplex and mall in Kandivali was one of the hotspots for the Generation Next. The City Centre in Andheri too saw a huge rush of college-going youth.
Suvarna Kamble, a college student, said she took a large cake for her classmates while Santosh Kalbate threw a 'vada-paav' party for friends near Malad.
"We celebrate all festivals in cosmopolitan Mumbai, so why not Valentine's Day?" Suvarna said when asked why she likes to celebrate the day of love.
The open expression of love was largely peaceful on Valentine's Day thanks to the Shiv Sena and MNS apparently deciding not to indulge in forcible tactics to disrupt celebrations.
The moral brigade has been known to harass couples and disrupt celebrations on the ground that Valentine's Day is a Western concept and against Indian culture.
They usually keep vigil at parks, restaurants and other places on the day. In the past, Hindu radicals have even gone on the rampage at greeting card shops, pubs and gardens to protest the celebrations, drawing widespread criticism.
The buzz is that the Sena does not want to give wrong signals among the youth, especially with the gen-next leader Aditya Thackeray at the helm of affairs of the six-month old Yuva Sena.
In his 20s, Aditya is the grandson of Sena chief Bal Thackeray and son of party executive president Uddhav Thackeray, and is steering the Yuva Sena towards popularity in the city and state.
Besides, the two parties are keen that the young crowd and Mumbaikars in general view them in a good light with the crucial elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) due early 2012.
The Shiv Sena does not want a hat-trick of defeats, especially since it suffered two successive losses - in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections - two years ago.
The MNS has even announced that it has no objection to the growing trend among youth to celebrate Valentine's Day.
"However, we do feel that our youngsters must also celebrate other Hindu and Maharashtrian festivals with equal fervour," an MNS spokesman said.