Love is a funny thing in India. Love whoever you want, they say. But only if they are of the opposite biological sex and belong to the same caste, class, and religion. Don’t forget, they should also make north of seven figures per year.
These terms and conditions are never openly discussed. Clearly, a part of the Indian population’s conscience agrees that love is love and that superficial constructs like caste, religion, and gender have nothing to do with it. Change begins with us, and anyone in a position of influence choosing to spread this idea of love has always been more than welcome and appreciated, or so we thought.
For their new campaign ‘Ekatvam’, Tanishq released an ad film that proved to be hard to digest for some Indians. It showed a Muslim mother-in-law preparing the house for her Hindu daughter-in-law’s ever-so-special occasion of her baby shower. As the former lovingly takes her daughter-in-law through the house to give a baby shower tour, we see that the house is adorned with pleasant decorations and Hindu customs are in preparation. When asked why she went through the trouble of setting it all up even though these customs don’t exist in her religion, the mother-in-law, with all her motherly love responds, “The custom to keep a daughter happy exists in all homes.”
The advertisement explored ‘Ekatvam’, a beautiful Sanskrit word that means ‘oneness in quality’, in all its purity. Contrary to its meaning, and unexpectedly so, the advertisement received an unimaginable amount of backlash due to its portrayal of a Hindu-Muslim marriage. The problem for some people existed not only in the fact that it was an inter-faith and inter-religious marriage, but also that it propagates the idea of ‘Love Jihad’, a term coined (and used dominantly by extreme Hindu groups) to define the phenomenon of a Muslim man marrying a Hindu woman to convert her religion to his.
As #BoycottTanishq raged online with unreasonable, spiteful and hateful backlash, Tanishq was forced to take down the product of an attempt to better society. The organisation showed the possibility of achieving an India that is powered by love and motivated by acceptance. Our so-called ‘secular’ tag would have then made sense.
A clear reflection of the Indian society and its mindset, the Tanishq ad and its forceful withdrawal speaks volumes. How, with the existence of such situations, are we meant to better ourselves? Mindsets do not make 180-degree turns overnight. Instead, they have to be convinced and coerced into taking up a stance of growth. Tanishq proudly took that stance and exquisitely portrayed love as love — not just between a Hindu and a Muslim, but also a mother and a daughter — a family that values love more than any religious tags.
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