In the latest series of removing advertisements after taking the Hindus for granted, using occasions and sacred signs of the community as vehicles to deliver woke messages, FMCG company Dabur has pulled down the Fem bleach commercial featuring a same-sex couple after Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra warned the brand of legal action.
In the said advertisement, two apparently lesbian women are shown getting ready for their first Karwa Chauth. While one woman is applying the bleach on the other’s face, one tells the other that the occasion is observed to make the “husband” happy whereas the ad features no man. Another woman, apparently playing the mother of one of the women, joins the two and gives each one a saree to wear at night.
In the end, the ad shows both women facing each other with the traditional sieve and a decorated thali with water in front of them, thus signifying that they are each other’s partners. Social media users had questioned whether the company or the makers of the commercial would dare send across such messages using symbols, signs or occasions of Muslims.
Married Hindu women of northern India celebrate Karwa Chauth by fasting the entire day and praying for a long life for their husbands. That the ‘husband’ could be a woman is unacceptable to the traditional society that has otherwise accepted the reading down of Section 377 by the Supreme Court of India, which decriminalised homosexuality.
Dabur pulled down the ad and issued an apology. In its statement, Dabur said: “Fem’s Karwa Chauth campaign has been withdrawn from social media handles and we unconditionally apologise for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments.”
The Madhya Pradesh minister had said that the advertisement was objectionable. He said, “Today they are showing lesbians breaking their Karwa Chauth fast tomorrow they may show two men getting married. I have directed the DGP to examine the advertisement and ask the company to remove it.”
Madhya Pradesh happens to be the state where, following an ink attack on filmmaker Prakash Jha and vandalism of the sets of the Hinduism-defaminh web series Ashram, the provincial government has made a policy that no other film crew will be allowed to shoot unless the script is approved by the district collector in whose area the permission for shooting has been sought.
Earlier this month, clothing brand FabIndia had to withdraw its campaign that promoted its upcoming range of festive attire after getting flak over the name of the collection — ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’ (sic). A large section of Hindus had questioned if the company established by a Christian financed by CIA’s front Ford Foundation would like to reduce the occasion to a mere custom. Riwaj (transliterated wrongly in the ad) is a word of Persian origin, which means “custom”.
Hindus also questioned why the women seen in the FabIndia ad were not sporting a bindi on their foreheads, normally expected of unmarried and married women from the community, especially when they are dressed in traditional attire.
A few days ago, tyre manufacturing brand Ceat faced backlash for an ad featuring actor Aamir Khan. BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde accused the company of causing “unrest among Hindus” through the ad that shows Aamir Khan advising people not to burst crackers on the streets.
Hegde asked the company to address the “problem of blocking roads for offering Namaaz and the noise emitted from mosques during Azan”.
The previous week, apparel brand Manyavar courted controversy with an advertisement that painted Hindu rituals and customs as ‘regressive’. The advertisement featuring Alia Bhatt portrayed ‘Kanyadaan’ as an oppressive practice and suggested ‘Kanyamaan’ was a better alternative. Hindus questioned whether the ad maker had any idea what the Sanskrit term daana meant, giving examples of vidyadaana (teaching), shramadaana (labour), pindadaana (paying homage to dead ancestors), etc and asking how these daanas were not the same as maana (giving respect).
Even earlier, a Surf Excel ad showing Hindus respecting a Muslim boy’s sentiments by not playing with colours on the day of Holi had caused outrage across social media users.
Then there was a Tanishq ad that seemed to promote love jihad. The Dabur Fem ad was only the latest in a long series of the corporate sector manipulating Hindus for furtherance of what they believe is progressive thinking.