KABUL (Reuters) – After a busy afternoon on the catwalk of a luxury hotel in Kabul on Friday, Salma Hussaini was named Afghanistan's first "Mrs. Valentine".
An Afghan model prepares behind the scenes before the fashion show as they celebrate Valentine's Day in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 14, 2020. REUTERS / Omar Sobhani
The 20-year-old from Bamiyan Province took a final walk on the catwalk dressed in a pink and yellow top and white jeans with silver cuffs, before receiving the sash.
"Valentine's Day is known around the world, but now it also finds its place in Afghanistan. We celebrate Valentine's Day with today's fashion show, but we will have many more fashion shows in the future," she told Reuters.
The competition, organized by a local modeling agency, also named a 23-year-old male model from Helmand province as "Mr Valentine". The program was a sign of how Valentine's Day is being celebrated by young people in a conservative society, where it serves as a distraction from the war years.
In larger cities, they display balloons and red and pink posters with Valentine's Day wishes in February. Restaurants in Kabul advertise packages with menus and entertainment, such as music and comedy shows for couples who wish to celebrate Valentine's Day together.
Murtaza Haidari, manager of the Kaaj online store, said he had received dozens of orders for roses and teddy bears this week and expects that number to reach hundreds by the end of Friday.
He said that the majority of young people participated, and his online store catered to those who were uncomfortable buying publicly Valentine's Day gifts.
“It is good to see our people talking about love, affections and emotions, at least it is better than every day of struggle and war. Most of our customers are young, ”he told Reuters. "Here is a famous saying among ordinary people: & # 39; the Taliban would not have gone to the front line if they had a lover at home & # 39;"
In the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Hamidullah, 23, said he would celebrate Valentine's Day with Nazanin, his fiancee, although he did not want to spoil the surprise by revealing the details publicly.
"I cannot say what I will give to my life partner, but there will be a bouquet of red roses, as a sign of my love," he said.
Nazinin, 22, was looking forward to the celebration.
“Life is already full of tension and fear in Afghanistan. This is at least a small opportunity for lovers to express their inner feelings, to enjoy those feelings and emotions, ”she said.
Reporting by Orooj Hakimi and Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Additional reporting by Matin Sahak in Mazar-i-Sharif; Written by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Giles Elgood
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