New Delhi: FabIndia, a clothing brand, recently was trolled by Right Wing social media users for an ad that they posted on microblogging website, Twitter, forcing it to withdraw the ad. The tweet by Fabindia was a promotional post for their new Diwali 2021 collection. “As we welcome the festival of love and light, Jashn-e-Riwaaz by Fabindia is a collection that beautifully pays homage to Indian culture," reads the caption of the post that has now been deleted.
Several Right-wing social media users called for a boycott of the company, claiming that the Urdu phrase had been used to hurt religious sentiments of the Hindu community. Diwali is a Hindu festival but is celebrated by all communities in India. The phrase Jashn-e-Riwaaz is in Urdu, a language that was born in India.
The boycott call started trending on twitter with the hashtag #BoycottFabindia, which prompted the company to delete their tweet. Several prominent personalities who supported the boycott call included some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. Incidentally, FabIndia clothing, especially kurta-pyjamas and cloth and woollen jackets are widely sported by political leaders across party lines in India, including from the ruling BJP.
BJP Yuva Morcha president, Tejaswi Surya, a Hindutva hardliner, said in a tweet “Deepavali is not Jash[n]-e-Riwaaz. This deliberate attempt of abrahamisation of Hindu festivals, depicting models without traditional Hindu attires, must be called out. And brands like Fabindia must face economic costs for such deliberate misadventures.”
Later, while withdrawing the ad, a FabIndia spokesperson said: “We at FabIndia have always stood for the celebration of India with its myriad traditions in all hues."
"Our current capsule of products under the name Jashn-e-Riwaaz is a celebration of Indian traditions. The phrase means that, literally. The capsule is not our Diwali Collection of products. Our Diwali collection is called 'Jhilmil si Diwali' is yet to be launched,” he added, as per a PTI report.
Established in 1960, FabIndia sources its products from villages helping to provide and sustain rural employment in India. According to reports, the products are currently produced by over 40,000 artisans and craftspeople across India.
In the past as well, Hindutva affiliated Twitter users and Right wing groups took to the microblogging platform to run such campaigns. In October 2020, jewellery brand Tanishq, which belings to the Tata group, was forced to remove an advertisement featuring a baby shower for an inter-faith couple, by Hindutva groups on social media for allegedly promoting “love jihad”. “Love jihad” is a Hindutva construct that alleges that Muslim men conspire to marry women from the Hindu community to convert them to Islam. Several other companies such as Zomato, Swiggy, Amazon, Netflix, Surf Excel have also been targeted by Hindutva and Right wingers for various reasons. The modus operandi in most cases has been to heavily troll these brands on social media.
After the removal of Fabindia’s post, several Twitter users including prominent personalities slammed the way Hindutva groups and Right wingers used tactics of threatening and intimidation. It was pointed out by some Twitter users that this spreads a bad message to homegrown entrepreneurs, while some maintained that this was ‘bigotry’ and ‘fascism’, to use such tactics and spread such ideas. Prominent Social Media personalities tweeted that while Right wingers accuse the Left of ‘cancel culture’, their boycott calls and campaigns were also that.
(inputs from PTI)