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A Woman’s Choice Of Her Own Partner Should Be Celebrated, Irrespective Of Religion

Posted: October 14, 2020

People have a problem with an ad that showed a Hindu woman in an interfaith marriage of her choice!

I saw the hashtag #BoycottTanishq today morning in a news item, and wondered what had happened. When you are on a social media detox, such a phrase is sure to grab your attention.

A little pressure on the brain and I realise that this is not some Chinese brand like the ones we had been asked to boycott, a few weeks ago. It’s certainly Indian, so why this hate?

It turned out to be the latest ad by Tanishq, the jewellery brand by the house of Tata, that had drawn this hate, on the angle of religion – the age old Hindu-Muslim divide, again to the fore.

The Tanishq ad had a Muslim family gearing up for a baby shower ritual (god-bharai) for their daughter-in-law, who happens to be a Hindu. So essentially, this was a Muslim family celebrating Hindu ways for a daughter whom they love unconditionally, for whom the person is more important than their religion. Guided solely by the feeling of love, they seem to be welcoming of the latest addition to their family.

Then why the hate?

Honestly, my mind could process no reason to hate this. But then the accusations of ‘love jihad’ come to the fore. And one comes to know the basic objections.

“So you mean to say that we Hindus are not tolerant?” “Why you didn’t show a muslim girl in a Hindu household? Try it and you’ll see fatwas issued against you.”

‘It promotes love jihad’ – a term that means a conspiracy by the Muslims whereby Hindu girls are being forcefully married into Muslim families and made to accept a religion change and a new identity.

Seriously? Do we really need to make issues out of non-issues, to consider and spend our time on? Especially at a time when the world is battling a pandemic that has made its every technology and each discovery redundant, that has proved time and again that it strikes regardless of caste, creed, religion or even nationality? To whom all are equal?

And here we are still divided by our religious issues.

Tanishq forced to take down the ad

Unfortunately the trolls had their day today. Following the backlash and trolling, Tanishq initially made the advertisement private on youtube on Monday evening and took it down on Tuesday morning.

But there are supporters of harmony who are protesting against this trolling.

Religions don’t divide, people do

‘Mazhab nahi sikhata apas main bair rakhna’ (Religions don’t teach fighting among ourselves.)

I write this with these lines echoing in my ears. Something I grew up listening to. That it is not religion that divides, that separates; that religion unites us; it proposes and encourages harmony, love and peace.

So it’s not the religion but the people behind it who make it a matter of contention. Some radical forces that raise rabble, that touches the ‘sentiments’ of the masses and in turn propagates hatred to suit their personal ends.

And this radicalism is not religion specific. No religion is immune to such radical beliefs. History is replete with instances like these. And the same history further iterates that such issues served no purpose, really. They never did, they never will. Something our radical forces need to understand and follow. It’s high time they do so.

Why are these people angry?

If you explore deeper into the issue, you will realise that this whole belief in ‘religious superiority’ has patriarchal roots. If you really dig into what’s bothering every troll here, it’s the anger they feel about the fact that a woman, a Hindu woman in this ad, made her choice without thinking in terms of religion.

The mindset that every troll here shows is also the belief that a woman loses her identity after marriage. That the culture, the belief, the religion of the husband takes priority above everyone else, and that the wife in every case has to happily accept and adjust as per the considerations of the husband. Even more, that the religious beliefs of the father become dominant when deciding the identity of the children. For in a patriarchal society, the offspring always carries forward the family line of the father.

Religion is just an adjunct to this patriarchal belief. How dare any other religion take over the life of a woman of my religion? The woman then becomes nothing more than a thing owned by the community she is born into.

Bash patriarchy – everything else will follow

Virginia Woolf has said, “As a woman I have no country. As a woman, the entire world is my country.” I agree. The only way we would not have seen anything wrong with the Tanishq ad is if we did not believe in male superiority. Because be it any case, any issue, any belief, it’s the woman who suffers, who is not permitted by the community that ‘owns’ her to make her own choice.

It’s high time we rise above such issues and be more acceptable to change.

A culture/religion that disrespects its women, will never survive in the long run. Explore history. Give equal importance to every gender. Let them make their choice. Development, prosperity is like the sun that shines equally for all and has no bias.

Let’s not overlook the real issues and fight over matters that don’t ‘matter’ in the long run, and even lose their significance.

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