New Delhi, Feb 13 Valentine Day is assuming a new importance in India more so because India's young population in booming with Almost half its population being below the age of 25.
The new global face of India has shed off old inhibitions and embraced like never before the essentially Western festival of Valentine's Day despite opposition from conservative voices.
Newspapers are rife with advertisements from corporates using the occasion to promote anything from contact lenses to watches to websites apart from traditional gifts like flowers, chocolates and jewellery.
''Pen a message to your valentine and win a free trip to Switzerland,'' says one adline while another screams: ''Seduce your paramour with long stemmed roses, this Valentine's Day, give your sweetheart a kiss to build a dream on.''
Shopping malls and middle class markets wear a festive look as the occasion is time for big business, and enterprising retailers are leaving no stone unturned to cash in on the demand.
''There are big time preparations for the occasion with planning that begins weeks ahead. Our shop this time has been decked up specially in shades of lilac as red and pink are passé,'' The Chocolate Boutique managing director Sanjeev Obhrai told IANS.
''Everyone wants to outdo each other as the sales during this period are phenomenal. People don't mind spending for personalized gifting items and even the festival itself has grown beyond the concept of an event for teenagers.
''Today people buy Valentine Day gifts not just for their girlfriends and wives but also for their families as it has become an occasion to express universal love.''
Florists make a killing with the added advantage that they belong to the unbranded sector, thus allowing them to hike prices to unprecedented levels.
''Prices of flowers, especially roses go up to even five times the normal levels as people are willing to part with money. We hoard supplies for sometime to meet with the demand,'' admitted a florist who wanted to remain unnamed.
The increasing purchasing power of a burgeoning middle class adds to the growing capitalist trend of spend first and worrying about bills later.
''What is wrong with spending on an occasion that comes once a year? After all we don't give gifts to show love every day,'' asks Sanjoy Samanta, a marketing executive who plans to buy a diamond pendant for his wife.
''I am not allowed to buy gifts for him during the rest of the year, so this is my chance. I've spent heavily on clothing and music CD's for my boyfriend,'' said Asha Chauhan, a broadcast media executive who has spent around Rs.10,000 for the day.
While the occasion has previously attracted attention from virulent fringes of rightwing groups that perceive Valentine's Day as a disturbing Western influence eroding traditional Indian culture, youngsters argue that globalization's effects cannot be escaped.
''We should not see the trend as a Western influence as love is universal after all. I see no harm in celebrating the day dedicated to love,'' contends Vinod Rajan, a student pursuing his post graduation.
Whatever the arguments may be, the trend of celebrating the day is slowly percolating from the urban strongholds to the domain of smaller towns where the media has served to popularize and market once alien concepts.