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Saturday, December 04 2021

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Ads vs tradition: Have we taken it too far with trends?

Believe it or not, a single tweet or a social media trend can bring revolutionary change not only to the commercial business or brands but also to the industry’s very existence today. The current social media trend #NoBindiNoBusiness, which has been the subject of controversy, is proof of this. The Diwali ad campaign by the Fabindia group was under scrutiny this time as Twitter and other social media users lashed the company for its ad.

The firm clarified that it is not a Diwali collection and that it will be released soon under the “Jhilmil si Diwali” promotion, right while the brand was accused of “defacing” the Hindu festival of Diwali by labelling its festive collection Jashn-e-Riwaaz (celebration of tradition). The outrage was created against the brands promoting their products with models wearing no bindi in the ad.

Following backlash from right-wing groups, clothing company Fabindia has taken down a promotional ad featuring Rajasthani culture and tradition for their new festive line. The cultural appropriation made some social media users uneasy for using an Urdu term “Jashn-e-Riwaz” to identify a traditional collection exclusively created for a Hindu event, thus leaving several users puzzled.

The issue took a major toll when author Shefali Vaidya tweeted in her Twitter handle, “Speaking for myself. Not buying anything for #Deepawali from ANY brand that shows models without a bindi. #NoBindiNoBusiness.” A tweet was issued in this regard after first criticising #NoBindi faces and the Urdu terminology used by the clothing brand Fab India. If brands want Hindu money, they should respect Hindu sentiments, stated Shefali Vaidya.

Shorty after Vaidya’s tweet, many social media users shared their photographs of themselves wearing bindis. “Wow @FabindiaNews great job at de-Hinduising Deepawali! Call it a ‘festival of love and light’, title the collection ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’, take Bindis off foreheads of models but expect Hindus to buy your overpriced, mass produced products in the name of ‘homage to Indian culture’!” she further tweeted.

In another tweet she slammed at Swarovski, “Hi @swarovski what is the connection between Deepawali, self-expression and naked models who look like they are employed at Hooters? #StopInsultingHinduSentiments #NoBindiNoBusiness.”

BJP MP Tejasvi Surya tweeted that Fabindia should face economic costs and “Deepavali is not Jashn-e-Riwaaz. This deliberate attempt of abrahamisation of Hindu festivals, depicting models without traditional Hindu attires, must be called out. And brands like @FabindiaNews must face economic costs for such deliberate misadventures.”

Fabindia took down its tweet announcing the launch, as well as the YouTube video minutes after his tweet. Fabindia published a statement claiming that the collection was not a Deepavali collection after the firm was compelled to cancel its advertisement and the collection.

Responses from social media users

A Twitter user tweeted, “The utmost pride of Indian culture is a “Bindi” we all adorn it with utmost pride. You are right @ShefVaidya, I stand rock strong with the movement. #NoBindiNoBusiness.”

Agreeing with Vaidya’s post, a user commented that she is right in making this campaign success but irony is 70 per cent girls and even married ladies have stopped wearing Bindi over their forehead due to these targeted campaigns of models. Even applying vermilion which was once the identity of married Hindu ladies is out of fashion. Need of the hour is to inculcate these age-old practices in our daily routine. To be smart does not need skipping the age- old tradition of applying Bindi or vermilion. Even bangles are now out of fashion and no one can differentiate between a smart unmarried girl and a married lady. To some extent, Saas Bahu TV serials are also to blame for this.

“This is a victory of all nationalist Hindu unity. If all Hindus remain united like this, then everyone will have to take care of us, our culture and our feeling,” opined a user.

I wonder how girls have no bindi on when they wear Indian attire. Even a foreigner wearing a saree would adorn a bindi I wear a small bindi even when i wear a western outfit. #BindiByDefault #NoBindiNoBusiness,” tweeted a user.

MoolDhaga, a clothing line, shared a tweet, “Wear your identity unapologetically e.g. a बिंदी which not only gracefully enhances the femininity but has deep implications in terms of focus & mindfulness. #BindiTwitter #NoBindiNoBusiness @ShefVaidya.”

Another twitter user said that no bindis attract evil and it is quite evident from their deeds. “When Hindus unite we can achieve wonders and teach everyone who speak against Hindus,” was another comment.

“Let’s not be under any such misconception, @FabindiaNews, @TanishqJewelry, @Manyavar_all follow the same toolkit and we boost our ego by saying we made them delete it. Real victory lies in none of them ever attempting such misadventures. Long way away ….,” was a user’s response.

Brands have invited controversies for its festival ads and due to people’s outrage, many had to take it down from their official social media handles. Recently, Dabur’s Fem brand was forced to withdraw a Karwa Chauth ad that depicted a same-sex pair performing the rituals. A Ceat ad featuring Aamir Khan urging people not to fire crackers on the roads angered the right, who claimed it should have addressed the “issue of blocking roads” for namaz as well. Last year, Tanishq, a jewellery business co-owned by the Tata, was forced to remove an advertisement depicting a Muslim family planning Hindu baby shower tradition for their Hindu daughter-in-law.

SC Reshma B.

Reshma Babu, a young Postgraduate in Mass Communication and Journalism from St. Aloysius College, Mangalore University, utilises her considerable learned journalistic knowledge and inherent story writing and sub-editing abilities to add value to the company’s media brands and the editorial team. All dimensions of human interaction are her prime focus.

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