Right-wing groups target clothing giant over ad



Clothing brand Fabindia has removed a tweet about its new festive line after a backlash from right-wing groups.

Many protested against the name of the collection titled Jashn-e-Riwaaz (celebration of tradition), saying it hurt their religious sentiments.

The firm was accused of attempting to appropriate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Some social media users called for a boycott of the brand, making their campaign one of the top Twitter trends.

The term Jashn-e-Riwaaz is in Urdu, which is one of the several prominent languages in India, and that seems to have upset the right-wing.

The language has a rich history in South Asia and it has produced some of the most powerful and intriguing literary works over the last two centuries. Many poets and writers who wrote in Urdu centuries ago are still celebrated in India.

The tweet, which went viral on Monday, said “as we welcome the festival of love and light,” the collection “pays homage to Indian culture”.

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.

Many conservative voices on social media said “Diwali is not Jashn-e-Riwaaz”.

A spokesperson from Fabindia, however, told the Times of India newspaper that the Jashn-e-Riwaaz was not its Diwali collection.

The ethnic retail behemoth is not 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 wedding attire, caused a social media furore. 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, popular jewellery brand Tanishq was forced to withdraw an advertisement which showed an interfaith couple at a baby shower organised for the Hindu bride by her Muslim in-laws.

Right-wing groups said the ad promoted “love jihad” – a term radical Hindu 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.


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