Pandemic and Pollution Call for a Cracker-Free Diwali. What Was So Offensive about the New Tanishq Ad?

Social Commentary

Pandemic and Pollution Call for a Cracker-Free Diwali. What Was So Offensive about the New Tanishq Ad?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Celebration of an inter-faith marriage was reduced to “love jihad”. And promoting a cracker-free Diwali is “anti-Hindu. Tanishq has once again offended some Indians. After receiving hate, the jewellery brand has brought down its new ad on its festive season collection “Ekatvam”. A new day, a new set of hurt sentiments.

In the commercial, Neena Gupta, Sayani Gupta, Alaya F, and Nimrat Kaur are talking about their plans for Diwali and Sayani floats the idea of a cracker-less Diwali. “I am hoping to be able to meet my mum after really long. Definitely no firecrackers, I don’t think anyone should light any firecrackers. But a lot of diyas, a lot of laughter hopefully, and a lot of positivity,” she says.

This is not a radical suggestion, keeping in mind in the ongoing pandemic and the rising pollution levels across India. In fact, several states including Delhi, Rajasthan have decided to ban the use of firecrackers. However, Twitter is overflowing with angry trolls, who don’t want you to buy Tanishq jewellery.

Tanishq withdrew the advertisement after backlash on social media but it couldn’t escape the wrath of online trolls. Social media mobs accused it of “targeting” Hindu festivals selectively and trying to “teach” Hindus how to celebrate Diwali.

BJP spokesperson Gaurav Goel requested everyone to boycott Tanishq. “Who is #tanishq to advise Hindus as how to celebrate diwali. Keep your advice to yourself and apply the same for your cheap publicity campaign,” he tweeted. CT Ravi, BJP Karnataka leader, told the company to “focus on selling their products, not lecture us”.

Ironically, it was a BJP government in Karnataka that announced a firecracker ban and then made a U-turn, allowing “green” crackers for Diwali. The BJP government in Haryana has also imposed restrictions, allowing bursting of crackers for only two hours during Diwali.

Experts have already pointed out that rise in air pollution levels can heighten Covid-19 risk. Medical Superintendent TB Hospital Dr AK Shrivastava stated, “Pollution level not only delays recovery of the COVID-19 but also enhances chances of contacting the coronavirus infection as the respiratory system gets weak. This is the reason, people having respiratory problems like asthma, and others should take precaution. They should always put the mask on their face for protection.”

With pollution rising, the coronavirus threat already present, and social distancing norms being flouted, calls for a cracker-less Diwali seem logical. But we live in an age of offence, where everything is a conspiracy against religion.