Why The Tanishq Ad Celebrating Interracial Harmony Is Not Offensive

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The latest Tanishq wedding jewellery advertisement showing interracial harmony has come under fire, with social media ablaze with #BoycottTanishq tweets and posts. The ad has received flak for allegedly promoting ‘love-jihad’ and being offensive to Hinduism.

Is the call for boycott and Tanishq’s subsequent removal of the ad justified? Let’s discuss!

What the ad portrays 

The video advertisement by Tanishq depicts the bond between a Muslim mother-in-law and her Hindu daughter-in-law.

There is a thick air of celebration all around as the mother-in-law gently holds the daughter-in-law. The daughter-in-law feels loved and protected. The glow on her face is not just because of pregnancy, but also because of happiness and contentment in her life. When the mother-in-law brings her to the lawn, the daughter-in-law beams even wider to find excited family members waiting for her arrival for the ‘Godh-Barai’ ceremony. When the mother-in-law escorts the daughter-in-law to her cushioned couch, the daughter-in-law holds her hand and asks in appreciation,

“Ma, yeh rasam toh apke ghar mein hote hi nahin hain na?” (Mom, this ceremony isn’t held in your house, no?)

The mother-in-law responds,

“Bitiya ko khush karne ka rasam har ghar mein hote hain.” (Every house has a ceremony of keeping the daughter happy.)

The ad ends with the loving image of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law wrapped in love and happiness amid the ‘Godh-Barai’ festivities in full swing. 

Why the Tanishq ad is not offensive 

It is not derogatory to religion

The ad does not hurt any religious sentiments. It does not insult either Hinduism or Islam.

The ad’s focal setting is the ‘Godh-Barai’ ceremony, an important ritual in Hindu households. The Muslim mother-in-law wants to be part of the Hindu ritual and initiate it for the sake of her daughter-in-law’s happiness. This is a progressive and an empathetic mother-in-law who respects her daughter-in-law’s Hindu roots and faith.

Those making baseless claims that the ad promotes ‘love-jihad’ need to pause and ponder that Muslims can also find the ad offensive to their religion as one protagonist initiates and takes part in a Hindu ritual.

How is the ad offensive only to Hinduism or any religion?

It is inclusive

Some bigots claim that the daughter-in-law is subservient in her own house and looks petrified.

First, we do not know whose house it is? Is it a joint or nuclear family?

If it is a nuclear family, then the mother-in-law is hosting the Hindu ceremony in her house. So, the daughter-in-law is a guest at her in-laws’ place as they play the perfect hosts.

Even if it is a joint family scenario, I’ve seen the ad where the daughter-in-law looks anything but subservient and scared in her house. On the contrary, she seems comfortable and joyous in her state of mind.

Please note that the mother-in-law’s statement, “Bitiya ko khush karne ka rasam har ghar mein hote hain?” is inclusive. She mentions how it is a ritual in ‘har ghar’ (not exclusively referring to a Muslim household) to celebrate their daughter’s happiness. She refers to her daughter-in-law as her own daughter, and likewise, the daughter-in-law refers to her mother-in-law as her own mother, ‘Ma.’

It respects an individual’s agency

Recently, Hemanth Vysyas, a 28-year-old man, was kidnapped and murdered in Hyderabad by Avanthi, his wife’s family. His fault was that he belonged to a lower caste and dared to fall in love and marry a higher caste woman. These incidents are commonplace not just in rural but also in urban India.

How many incidents of interracial relationships and marriages do we know in our social circles? It’s not always ‘love-jihad’ in speculative action when a Hindu woman marries a Muslim man. I know of so many Muslim women friends who have made the first move in a relationship and married Hindu men? What term will the bigots attribute for the reverse phenomenon here?

74 years of Indian Independence, and we still haven’t freed ourselves from the shackles of the caste system or fundamentalist outlook. When will we learn to respect the choice of two consenting adults in a free, democratic country? You can have all the laws in place, but what about the inherent hatred and bigotry in our society?

Coming to the Tanishq ad, why can’t we respect the couple’s agency, a Hindu woman and a Muslim man? Why can’t we respect the agency of the Muslim mother-in-law to practice a Hindu ritual? Who are we to interfere with the agency of adults in their relationships? Isn’t the boycott illegal as per the Right to Freedom in the Constitution of India?

Can we not look at all citizens in India as equals? Not some as more equal or less equal because of their religion, caste, and gender? Maybe then, we will learn to stay within our boundaries and respect an individual’s agency. Is that too much to hope?

Final Thoughts

We might attach ulterior motives to the advertisement, but there is no evidence to justify the reasoning for such unfounded fears.

The fact that Tanishq removed the advertisement after the public outrage is proof enough that their intention was not malicious. If they intended to promote ‘love-jihad’ and Islam in a Hindu majoritarian country like India, they would not pull off the ad and keep it to propagate the ‘alleged’ agenda.

It’s high time we used our intellect and opened our hearts to look at any issue from all the angles, not from our selective lens and myopic beliefs.

The Tanishq ad is anything but offensive to religion or our country. When we have a jaundiced eye, everything we look at will be offensive, including the refreshing, non-stereotypical portrayal of the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship and individuals’ agency in relationships.

Even if the unfounded fears ring true, here’s a final question to you-

Is your religion or faith so fragile that it can get broken by a mere advertisement?

*Also published on YouthKiAwaaz and WomensWeb.

56 comments

  1. I couldn’t find any flaw in the ad, in fact, this was one of the happy and soothing ads seen on the idiot box. Nevertheless, now it’s off-air. The point is, people are either really frustrated in life or they need some area to vent out potent energy, so why not social media trolling. As the Indian political scene is always over-boiling, every tom-dick-and-harry topic becomes an issue. I rest my case, this was unnecessary and actually portrays us as an intolerant society.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are right. I am shocked that even the most highly educated people in my social circle are behaving like jokers. I really don’t know what else they’d like to see. Like a whole Hindu family celebrating muslim rituals for their Muslim bahu… that would also offend them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thought provoking write up. I believe we are getting outraged for all the non-sensical stuff way too often and way too quickly. We aren’t bothered with all the important things we should actually be outraged about. We are regressing rapidly. I remember growing up all the ads promoting communal harmony and brotherhood and 30 years later all that is going down the drain. Keep the good work going Ma’am. More power to you.

    #MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would like to believe that the brand Tata is a very responsible one, and they would not let anything even mildly offensive pass through.
    The advert left me misty-eyed and your well written post just affirms what i felt. The Pandemic has given free time to a lot of people, which is why the protests. I wish Tata hadn’t pulled if off air though.

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  5. It’s sad that mindset of people in India has gone to this level that they see Love Jihad in everything .
    Ad was beautiful and heart touching , a strong bond between MIL & DIL
    But ….
    Hope that things get better in our country.

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  6. I didn’t find the Tanishq ad derogatory. It was about celebration, beautiful clothes and gorgeous jewellery. We really should stop taking offense at everything!

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  7. I was completely shocked by the reaction myself and when Tanishq took down the Ad it was all the more irritating. We talk of change, equality, progress and what not but all on paper. We are so conditioned by our preconceived notions that we just can not accept any deviation. This is high time thoughts are practised in reality.

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  8. This was such a beautiful ad. I was shocked at the outrage it generated, even though I’ve been closely watching the degeneration in Indian society and spaces. This is nothing but a dominant care labouring under the false pretence of their own perceived victimhood. Where are we headed?

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  9. India ia a secular country is what our Constitution says and after 75 years of Independence, we have regressed to this state! Deplorable state of affairs. We are going to go to the dogs with such a govt and mindset that they are feeding.I feel very strongly about this. “Bitiya ko khush karne ka rasam har ghar mein hote hain? such a simple and lovely sentence.Overwhelming really! But Tanishq shouldn’t have removed the ad is what I feel but then the commercial odds are so against the idea!

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  10. In recent years, I stopped posting political articles on my personal Facebook timeline simply because of the sad realization that many of my friends in real life were actually bigots. But the nonsensical outrage over this ad made me finally write about it and share it there… I just can’t understand how they look to find hate in the midst of even love. These conservative minds have turned into the actual destroyers of the country’s reputation.

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  11. I agree with you when you rightly said that it’s high time people start looking at things from a different perspective and angle. I also feel it was neither derogatory nor targeting any religion or anything else. I wish it was still on air.

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  12. Even I feel this ad is not offensive. I dont know about others or those who protested, but i love this ad, it make me happy

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  13. Lovely post and so is the advertisement. Glad you wrote about it.
    when did people forget mile sure mera tumhara to sure bane hamara.
    Such a beautiful ad that says beti ko khus karna is the rasam, not the religion.
    More surprised I was to see the Ad getting removed by tanishq.

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  14. I liked the advertisement and really did not understand what was the need the cry about. I agree with you even after years of independence why we can’t change our mindset.

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  15. I didn’t find anything wrong in the ad. Don’t know why the brand pulled it down and gave in to the pressure. It’s a beautiful with a good message

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  16. Day by day India is becoming intolerant. I feel people take pleasure in opposing and trolling. It’s completely sadistic behaviour. Our society has become negative. I don’t know when will we ever be progressive.

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  17. I totally agree with you. With the growing intolerance in our nation, its hight time these bigotries come to an end. Tanishq should not have withdrawn the ad. Its time to take a stand.

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  18. I felt it outrageous to ban such a beautiful ad! It was sheer stupidtiy. But what can we say. The ad was truly beautiful and sending out a good message.

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  19. I’m surprised with the outrage people gave for this ad. The ad in no means was offensive. It only wished to share happiness.

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  20. I didn’t know such accusations were even raised against the advertisement I found the gesture of mother in law beautiful and full of love. why do they even have to bring religion and biased thoughts in between everything?

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  21. All the important things are being left behind and ad with a beautiful message even though promoting a brand has been objected on. I think we need to check whether we are growing by the day or just going back into the past.

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  22. Your post mirrored my thoughts. I too felt there was nothing wrong in the advertisement. In India people have decided to get outraged at each and every small issue. There is no respect or understanding for a different culture or religion.

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  23. You know Tina, in my eyes that Tanishq ad was a beautiful and a glorious celebration of unity in diversity. It is a pity that instead of celebrating it, the bigots in our country showed their blazing rage and got Tanishq to pull it out. The truth is that even though this kind of bigotry always existed in our country, the flames of hatred have been fanned and made to blaze away in all its fury only in the last 6 years. We are hearing terms such as love jihad only now. Every time I get into an argument with a bhakt about these things they come up with a lot of whatabouttery to justify their arguments. And we have reached a stage now where Harvard educated ministers openly garland men who are convicted for lynching. At this rate we will soon be taken back to the dark times of the 5th century. Your article really gives very good reasons why the ad cannot be considered offensive to anyone. It is the jaundiced eye of the bigots which makes them take offense at such a beautifully creative piece.

    Like

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