Indian retailer Fabindia has been pushed to withdraw an advertisement about a new festive line after a backlash from RSS motivated right-wing Hindu groups.
The RSS supporters accused that the Advertisement of using Urdu – a language spoken by many Muslims – to celebrate a collection for the Hindu festival of Diwali.
The collection was titled as Jashn-e-Riwaaz which is an Urdu term that means “celebration of tradition”.
However, a tweet of the Ad sparked accusations from some Hindus who said it hurts their religious sentiments.
They said that the firm – a household name that sells home furnishings, furniture, clothes, and food – was appropriating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
A spokesperson from Fabindia, however, said that Jashn-e-Riwaaz was not its Diwali collection.
Some netizens users called for a boycott of the brand, making the campaign one of the top Twitter trends. They said, “Diwali is not Jashn-e-Riwaaz”.
Some tweets were, although, in support of the brand. A tweet that went viral said, “as we welcome the festival of love and light,” the collection “pays homage to Indian culture”.
But the tweet has been withdrawn and so has the ad.
Urdu has a rich history in South Asia and has produced some of the most powerful and intriguing literary works over the centuries. Many of those poets and writers are still celebrated in India.
But the language has become polarising in India in recent years with right-wing Hindu groups asserting that it’s predominantly spoken by the Muslim community and it should not be used to describe Hindu festivals and rituals.
Backlash on Brands in India
Fabindia is a new example to the list but it is in no way the first brand to buckle under right-wing pressure in recent years.
A recent advert by clothing brand Manyaavar which featured Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt in a bride’s attire caused a furor on social media. The Ad, which appeared to question an old tradition, received widespread backlash as it was seen as an attack on Hindu wedding rituals.
In October, a popular jewelry brand by the name of Tanishq was forced to withdraw an advertisement that showed an interfaith couple at a baby shower organized for the Hindu bride by her Muslim in-laws.
Right-wing groups said the ad promoted “love jihad” – a term radical Hindutva-inspired groups use to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage.
The brand faced a backlash on social media but it didn’t stop there. The trolling soon spread to physical threats and the names of some of the company’s employees were circulated online.