Indian jewellery company Tanishq has sparked debate with its recent advertising campaign featuring an interfaith family. The advert was designed to showcase their new range, Ekatvam, which means unity. The slogan being “the beauty of oneness.” The 45-second clip shows a Muslim family throwing a traditional Hindu baby shower for their Hindu daughter-in-law. The daughter is pleased and surprised with the gesture as this is not something her Muslim family typically celebrate, to which the mother-in-law replies that “the ritual of making daughters happy is in every home.”
Why are people so angry?
Tanishq has stated that it was not their intention to cause controversy; in fact, quite the opposite. The Ekatvam campaign is designed to celebrate the coming together of people from all types of backgrounds, especially during these difficult times in the wake of Covid.
Unfortunately, many viewers were outraged by the campaign believing it to have a “love jihad“ sexist message. The love jihad theory is not without controversy itself. The decidedly anti-Islamic idea believes that Muslim families are actively converting Hindu women through marriage.
Another Twitter user complained that the Hindu woman was only being shown acceptance because she is pregnant with a potential heir and displayed as nothing more than “a set of ovaries.”
Not everyone agrees
Some people have leapt to the defence of Tanishq, questioning whether or not people would have had the same strong reactions if the story was told in reverse with a Muslim woman joining a Hindu family.
One Twitter user said they could not see why people have a problem with the advert asking, “What’s wrong with Celebrating traditions cross religion?“
Former international diplomat and politician Shashi Tharoor went so far as to call those complaining about the ad “Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] bigots,” believing them to be prejudiced in their dismissal of the positive Hindu-Muslim unity that the campaign is promoting. He believes that India is itself the strongest symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world, so to boycott Tanishq is to boycott these longstanding Indian ideals.
Not wanting to risk alienating more of their client base, Titan Group, who owns the jewellery brand, has responded by pulling the campaign from the air. They have expressed sorrow that what was intended to be a message of peace and unity has instead caused so much contention.
The voice-over actress, Divya Dutta, has also stated her disappointment at the decision to cancel the advert, which she had been proud of and seen no issues with. The star said that she “loved it” and was sad that they had taken it off the air.
The brand has withdrawn the ad as a peace offering to those offended and to protect the well-being of its staff in the wake of such negative criticism. The decision to remove it to protect their staff is particularly pertinent, as many Twitter trolls were going so far as to specifically target individual employees of Tanishq and encourage online abuse of them.