After showing an inter-faith baby shower ceremony that struck a discordant note with the lived reality of countless Hindus, Tata group company Tanishq is back with another elitist take on the Hindu festival of Diwali.
In yet another off-key digital ad to sell their ‘Ektavam’ (oneness) line of jewellery, a now deleted Tanishq ad shows a collection of rich women wearing designer sarees, and expensive Tanishq gold jewellery of course, speaking about how they will celebrate Diwali.
“I will get a chance to meet my mother after a long time…and no crackers, I hope no one bursts any crackers”, says one actress. “Wear a nice saree or salwar kameez, eat mithai, spend time with family,” say others. In short, a sacred, religious festival in which Hindus do Lakshmi-Ganesh puja, or worship their Gods in other ways and remember the victory of Good over Evil as symbolized by the return of Sri Ram, Maa Sita and others to Ayodhya, has been desacralised and reduced merely as a family get-together, a time to chill and parade your ‘ethnic’ collection!
The ad has generated a range of responses, some of which we share below:
According to popular culture’s visual cues Hindu festivals are all about dressing up in fusion ethnic clothes (strictly no bindi of course) good food and generally partying. It’s never anchored on the religious aspect or rituals. Slow conditioning of young minds
— bhatnaturally 🇮🇳 (@bhatnaturally) November 9, 2020
Diwali bole to no Lakshmi, no Alpana, no puja, no crackers. Only “hoping to meet mom after long”, spending time with family, eating food and buying jewelry.
Ekatvam bole to ek bhi Hindu Hindu na rah jaye!
— Sarvesh Tiwari (@bhAratenduH) November 9, 2020
Vamsee Juluri, acclaimed author and Professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco, has an interesting take on what is driving such a wave of ‘social messaging’-oriented deracinated ads on almost every Hindu festival. While taking note of how Indian advertising has been subtly portraying any expression of Hindu tradition as un-aspirational, he says –
“Aspirationalism might be one part of this trend like The Hindu article said but I have another hypothesis that twitter friends in advertising/ comm education might corroborate.
Indian mass comm students post 1991 grew up with sense of idealism (lefty, anti patriarchy etc) plus never before career prospects in the new media / ad world which they ought to have felt some conflict about (campus che to capitalist chai selling etc).
Maybe erasing Hinduism became the way they reconciled this in their creative work. I mean if you have been convinced in your education that the bindi or other Hindu markers are offensive to non-Hindus or are oppressive in nature, maybe it’s hard to see these as harmless let alone beautiful any more.
The new Tanishq ad really made me wonder along these lines. It’s like in academia in India where people freak out about the H word like it’s the plague and disinvite or ask to remove the word and such! Deep resistance to seeing Hindu daily life without colonial ‘woke’ lens on.”
But crackers and air/noise pollution is not the only line of attack adopted against Diwali!
Dear @EconomicTimes, let us know who you have sold yourself to and for how many piastre.
Nothing else explains this. pic.twitter.com/9yKCROe2th
— Kansara (@kansaratva) November 9, 2020
So traditional sweets on Diwali are ‘unhealthy’, but the heavy eating before dawn and after dusk witnessed during Ramzan ‘fasting’ or the consumption of millions of stuffed turkeys at Thanksgiving is not used to run those festivals down. While traditional sweets and other preparations made in desi ghee are branded ‘fattening’, sweets in the form of chocolates, cakes and pastries and other artificial junk foods are normalised.
The Indian elites’ and secular state’s idea of ‘Ekatvam’ (oneness) is simple: Hindus should shed their traditions, their Dharma, and accept the secularised, modern ideas of culture dictated to them.
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