Tanishq: Jewellery ad on interfaith couple withdrawn after outrage
Popular Indian jewelry brand Tanishq withdrew an ad featuring an interfaith couple following right-wing backlash on social media.
It shows a baby shower that was organized by her Muslim in-laws for the Hindu bride.
Opponents of the advertisement say it promotes "love jihad," a term radical Hindu groups use to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women through marriage.
Rights groups say religious tolerance is threatened in India. Hindu-Muslim marriages have long drawn criticism.
The attachment to them of a deeper, darker motive - the "love jihad" - is a more recent phenomenon.
A section of conservative social media users launched calls to boycott the brand and put it at the forefront of Twitter trends. Many joined in condemning the abusive posts and comments that supported the boycott trend.
Tanishq is a popular Indian jewelry brand
The ad on YouTube was described as follows: "She is married to a family that she loves like their own child. Just for her, they do everything to celebrate an occasion they normally don't. A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions and cultures. "
The 43-second ad - advertising a jewelry line called "Ekatvam" (Hindi word for unity) - has been removed from Tanishq's social media channels. The company has not yet responded to the BBC's request for a response.
The brand first turned off comments and likes / dislikes on the ad that were posted on Facebook and YouTube. The video was later removed.
Opposition Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who posted the ad on his Twitter account, said "Hindutva bigots have called for a boycott to highlight Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad".
"If the Hindu-Muslim 'ekatvam' annoys you so much, why don't you boycott the longest-surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity - India?" Mr. Tharoor wrote.
Most Indian families still prefer weddings that are organized within their religion and caste. and marriages outside these limits have sometimes resulted in violent consequences, including the killing of women - sometimes even men - by their relatives.
According to the India Human Development Survey, only about 5% of all intercaste marriages are and interfaith couples are even rarer.
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A 2016 survey, Social Attitudes Research for India (Sari), conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, and the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, found that the majority of respondents were against caste and interfaith marriages.
In fact, they advocated a law prohibiting such marriages.
Gender activists say that women have a duty to uphold tradition, culture and "purity" and if they marry outside of traditional boundaries, they are viewed as defiling the honor of their family and community.
This happens against the background of an India in which religious polarization is increasing. A Hindu nationalist government has been in power since 2014 and has been accused by its critics of normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment.
Religious polarization in India has increased in recent years
In 2018, a Facebook page calling for violence against 102 Muslim men allegedly related to Hindu women was discontinued.
The site asking Hindus to "track down and hunt the boys on the list" sparked outrage online.
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