Free Hugs for Valentine’s Day

Republishing this here from my article in to set the context for the next post.

One of the highlights of the past few weeks have been the Mangalore pub beating incident by the Shree Ram Sene activists. For those hiding under a rock, a bunch of goons physicall assaulted girls who were simply enjoying themselves in a pub in Mangalore. All in the name of maintaining Indian culture and preventing the proliferation of Western Culture.

Soon after that, with the imminence of Valentine’s Day and to gain more political mileage out of their actions, the group declared that they would “Marry Off” any couple found enjoying themselves.

This declaration probably had the exact opposite affect of their aim. The attack coupled with this declaration resulted in the kind of backlash, from the political to the student to the working people to even the autowallahs pledging support for the Valentine’s day revelers.

And not just that, multiple groups sprung up overnight to protest against Shri Ram Sene, it’s leader Pramod Muthalik and the moral police. The Pink Chaddi campaign, The Pub Bharo aandolan, the Walk for Love and the Hug Karo, Pub Bharo aandolan all decided to exercise their freedom and civil rights and protest against those who threaten it.

I got a chance to participate in the Hug Karo, Pub Bharo aandolan. It was organized mainly by the Blogaloreans (Bangalore Bloggers group). While there was no Pub Bharo, there was a lot of Hugging in the aandolan.

About 4 of us assembled initially at the corner of Brigade Road-MG Road at about 3 PM of Valentine’s Day with posts saying:

– Free Hug
– Happy Valentine’s Day
– Dear Daughter, Wish you a fear free society (Get well soon Mamu)

and similar messages.

As we stood there, in one of the busiest streets in Bangalore, people passed us by looking at us curiously but not venturing to show their support by giving or receiving a free hug.

But a lot of the younger generation (read MY generation) eventually understood our purpose and came to us either to encourage us or to hug us.

(The initial Hug Karo group)

(The final group when more people had joined us out of enthusiasm)

Though we did not keep a steady count, I’m quite certain that our group gave out at least 50-70 hugs which considering the small group was a pretty good number. However, the entire time, all of us felt that people were hesitant to come for a hug, that they were skeptical of our motives and were simply embarrassed. But a lot of them also showed support, giving us thumbs up, coming and giving us tight hugs or general words of encouragement and praise. That kept us heartened and energised to go at it for close to 2-1/2 hours.

However, what was most important was that we touched so many people, put our point across to the so called moral police and all this in a peaceful process.

We also received media coverage from Deccan Chronicle, TV 9 and other independent journalists and photographers.

Some More pics (courtesy Sanjukta):

Lastly, a group has collated various videos of of the protests in Bangalore for Valentine’s day and against the Moral police. Visit their youtube channel to view the videos

Edit: Fixed link to the Indicourse channel on Youtube


  1. Pramod Biligiri February 19, 2009

    Hey, that was an awesome thing you guys did that day!

    P.S: The link to YT is missing http

  2. AJ February 19, 2009

    Pramod, YT?

  3. Pramod Biligiri February 19, 2009


  4. AJ February 19, 2009

    Corrected. Thanks for the heads up Pramod :)

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