Tanishq: From baby shower to love jihad

MUMBAI: Social media can turn even the most well intentioned narrative on its head. Sample this: Tata Group's jewellery brand Tanishq was hammered on Tuesday for an advertisement, which tells the simple story of a Hindu woman, married into a Muslim family, who is surprised to find that an elaborate ‘baby shower’ ceremony has been organised as per Hindu rituals.

The girl asks her mother-in-law about it, saying, "Par yeh rasam toh aapke ghar mein nahi hoti hai na? (But this ceremony is not celebrated at your place, isn't it?)," and is told, "Bitiya ko khush karne ki rasam toh har ghar mein hoti hai na? ''

Rather than congratulating the creative team of Tanishq for a beautifully crafted message of inter-faith confluence, the ad became the centrepiece of a spurious narrative of 'love jihad'. In no time, rabid elements had crept out of the woodwork and began the rant: 'Boycott Tanishq.'

Clearly taken aback by the venom, the jewellery brand decided to yield before the band of trolls and the commercial is no longer available on its official YouTube channel.

Taking note of the backlash, a Twitter user wondered what would have been the response if the religious roles were reserved in the commercial. The unkindest cut came when the upmarket jewellery brand was accused of promoting 'Love Jihad' and inter-faith marriages. "#BoycottTanishq now, it has become a national malady. Protect our daughter from love jihad and save their lives," a user said.

For the naive among us, love-jihad is a conspiracy theory which subscribes to the view that there is a concerted attempt by Muslim men to target non-Muslim women for conversion to Islam by professing to be in love.

The term was coined after a few cases of conversion emerged in Kerala and Karnataka.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor reacted sharply to those who called for the ad's boycott. "So, Hindutva bigots have called for a boycott of @TanishqJewelryfor highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad. If Hindu-Muslim "ekatvam" irks them so much, why don't they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world -- India? (sic)," the 64-year-old leader wrote on Twitter.

Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi also joined those tweeting against the outrage. Ex-member of the National Commission of Women Shamina Shafiq also backed the message of interfaith harmony, saying: "Thank you for making us notice the beautiful #tanishq ad dear trolls!"

Tanishq is a division of Titan and promoted by the Tata Group in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO).

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Free Press Journal