Popular Indian jewellery brand Tanishq has withdrawn an advertisement featuring an interfaith couple after a right-wing backlash on social media, BBC News has reported.
Opponents of the adverts argued that the ad, which shows a baby shower organised for the Hindu bride by her Muslim in-laws, promotes “love jihad”, a term radical Hindu groups use to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage.
The description for the 43-second ad – promoting a jewellery line called ‘Ekatvam‘ (Hindi word for unity) – reads: “She is married into a family that loves her like their own child. Only for her, they go out of their way to celebrate an occasion that they usually don’t. A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions and cultures.”
The ad sparked outrage among a section of conservative social media users who led calls to boycott the brand, taking it to the top of Twitter trends. On the other hand, many joined in to condemn the abusive posts and comments.
The brand first disabled comments and Likes/Dislikes on the advert, posted to Facebook and YouTube before removing the video altogether. In a statement, the jewellery brand said: “We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff.”
Congress party MP Shashi Tharoor, who posted the advert to his Twitter account, said: “Hindutva bigots have called for a boycott for highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad. If Hindu-Muslim ‘ekatvam‘ irks them so much, why don’t they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity – India?”
Other prominent personalities also argued that the ad promoted inter-faith harmony and should not have been taken down.
Read more – Hindu couple gets married at a mosque in India
Kangana Ranaut, on the other hand, stood with the right-wingers and slammed the ad for promoting love-jihad.
“As Hindus we need to be absolutely conscious of what these creative terrorists are injecting in to our subconscious, we must scrutinise, debate and evaluate what is the outcome of any perception that is fed to us, this is the only way to save our civilisation,” wrote the actor on social media.
Most Indian families still prefer weddings arranged within their religion and caste; and marriages outside these boundaries have sometimes led to violent consequences, including women – sometimes even men – being killed by their relatives.
According to the India Human Development Survey, only about 5% of all marriages are inter-caste and interfaith couples are even rarer.