Female students of Delhi University’s Hindu College came together for Valentine’s Day to protest against the college’s long-drawn tradition of “Virgin Tree Puja.”
The women’s collective Pinjra Tod, along with other female students, staged demonstrations against the custom, saying it was brahminical and patriarchal. Every year, students from the boys’ hostel at the college organise a “puja” at the tree called the “Virgin Tree” or simply the “V-Tree” to pray to the goddess Damdami Mai. Condoms are hung from the tree on the college grounds along with a poster of an avatar of Damdami Mai, usually a Bollywood actress.
The ceremony is performed by a male student dressed up as a priest. It is supposed to bring luck to those participating and help them lose their virginity in the following six months.
This year, when several women raised objections in the days leading up to February 14, a meeting was called between members of the hostel association and the student union. The format was then altered and it was decided to worship a famous couple instead – Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli, The Quint reported.
According to the BBC, PK Vijayan, a professor at the meeting, suggested that the female students be “more flexible and “take it over and redesign it the way they want to,” instead of demanding a ban. The protesters, however, were not having any of it and continued with their goal of putting an end to it permanently.
Posts on Pinjra Tod’s Facebook page said the women broke through college gates, fighting past the police who were deployed there to curb protests. They formed a human chain around the tree and climbed on it to take down the posters. Videos also showed them shouting slogans and waving flags.
Another video posted by the group showed them celebrating with songs and dances following the successful disruption of the tradition.