LOVE was in the air across Asia on Wednesday for Valentine’s Day, with mass weddings, public celebrations, lots of consumerism and even some protests to mark the occasion.
While Valentine’s Day is not native to the continent, millions of Asians wholeheartedly embrace the romantic holiday as their own.
Valentine’s Day was originally a Western Christian holiday to remember the martyred Saint Valentine, who is said to have ministered for persecuted Christians under the Roman Empire and who performed weddings for soldiers who were barred from wedlock.
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That hasn’t stopped Buddhist-majority Thailand from enjoying the day, however. Thais were out in force in Bangkok on Wednesday celebrating love.
Couples take part in a Valentine’s Day celebration at the Laksi district in Bangkok, Thailand February 14, 2018. Source: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha
Source: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun
In a country where the birth rate is declining, Thai health officials handed out folic acid and iron pills in pink boxes at six locations to entice couples to prepare for pregnancy.
The pills came with leaflets explaining how to be healthy in order to conceive.
Public health officer gives a prenatal vitamins to a couple during a Valentine’s Day celebration at the Laksi district in Bangkok, Thailand February 14, 2018. Source: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha
Source: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha
According to the Bangkok Post, Thailand “does Valentine’s like nowhere else.”
But people across Hindu-majority India also got into the spirit, with malls, flower sellers and artisans cashing in on the big day.
People arrange tiles of a heart-shaped puzzle during an event to promote Valentine’s Day celebrations, inside a mall in Bengaluru, India, February 12, 2018. Source: Reuters/Abhishek N. Chinnappa
An artisan paints hearts made of polystyrene at a road side workshop ahead of Valentine’s Day, in Kolkata, India February 8, 2018. Source: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Some Indians in Kolkata used the day to hold a mass wedding. A whopping 160 couples tied the knot during a ceremony organised by a local non-profit organisation, reported The Hindu.
Brides wait to take their vows at a mass wedding ceremony organised on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, in Kolkata, India February 14, 2018. Source: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Source: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
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But not all were feeling the love. Some conservative Hindus took issue with the Western holiday, marrying a donkey and dog in protest.
People pose after staging a wedding of a dog and a donkey to protest against Valentine’s Day in Chennai, India, February 14, 2018. Source: Reuters/P.Ravikumar
In neighbouring Muslim-dominated Pakistan, many vendors also sought the rupees of romantics.
A man inflates a heart shaped balloon ahead of Valentine’s day in Peshawar, Pakistan February 7, 2018. Source: Reuters/Fayaz Aziz
Of course over in Australia it was celebrated too.
Pedestrians walk past a display promoting Valentine’s day shopping in Sydney’s central business district (CBD) Australia, February 5, 2018. Picture taken February 5, 2018. Source: Reuters/Daniel Munoz
Though not nearly as enthusiastically, it seems, as in the Philippines.
Valentine’s this year happened to fall on Ash Wednesday, which in Asia’s largest Catholic-majority country is a big deal.
A man takes a selfie of the “Love Lock” fence, the symbol of undying love with God, near the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Paranaque city, as part of Valentine’s Day celebrations, Metro Manila, Philippines February 14, 2018. Source: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Vendors sell balloons and flowers at a flower market in Dimasalang district, metro Manila, Philippines February 13, 2018. Source: Reuters/Dondi Tawatao
The government continued an ongoing tradition of supporting mass weddings for low income people.
A couple with a child pose at a wedding photo booth before the start of a free mass wedding ahead of Valentine’s Day celebration at Subic, Zambales, Philippines February 13, 2018. Source: Reuters/Erik De Castro
Source: Reuters/Erik De Castro
Thousands of Filipina nuns and students used it as an opportunity to protest violence against women.
Filipino nuns and students take part in a One Billion Rising worldwide campaign to end violence against women during a Valentine’s Day celebration at St Scholastica’s College in Manila, Philippines February 14, 2018. Source: Reuters/Erik De Castro
For those without a date, a Manila rescue centre played cupid by putting on candle-lit dinners to try to match homeless mutts with dog lovers.
Visitors took selfies, hugged and fed treats to newfound furry friends rescued from loveless homes, some missing a leg or even a snout.
Source: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Each date included a decorated table for two and cost just $6 to help fund a shelter run by the aptly named PAWS, or Philippine Animal Welfare Society.
Pet lovers with shelter dogs are seen during a “Date with Dogs”, to further strengthen pet owner’s love for their animal pals, ahead of the Valentine’s Day, inside the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) headquarters in Quezon city, metro Manila, Philippines February 13, 2018. Source: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Until next year!
A female fire dancer juggles torches during a Valentine’s Day performance at Taguig, metro Manila, Philippines February 14, 2018. Source: Reuters/Dondi Tawatao
Additional reporting from Reuters.