No Bindi No Business, Trolls Tell Jewellery Brand. What About Women’s Right To Choose?

Malabar Ad Boycott, No Bindi No Business, boycott malabar gold
Kareena Kapoor Khan doesn’t need to do much to be trending. Friday morning, she was seen on Twitter feeds for featuring in a Jewellery ad sans a bindi. So what, you make ask? Well, this ad has rubbed a section of the Twitteratti the wrong way. But what is with jewellery ads and Twitter these days? Why are we so quick to take offence? 

Kapoor Khan appeared in a newspaper advertisement for Malabar Gold and Diamonds, on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya. A section of social media users is criticising her for not wearing a bindi in the ad that revolves around a Hindu festival.

Some users of the microblogging platform have called it an insult to the Hindu religion. #No_Bindi_No_Business, #Boycott_MalabarGold is also trending on Twitter. However, while a section of the users feels this is an attack on Hindus and their culture, there is also a group that terms these festivals as misogynistic and primitive, which by some twisted logic, makes this “anti-Hindu” ad actually progressive.

Akshay Tritiya is considered to be an auspicious day by Hindus and Jains. It is considered to be a good day to begin new ventures, solemnise marriages, or make investments in gold or property. Buying gold on this day is considered an investment to prosperity. So around this time every year, you would find special discounts and other benefits being offered to the buyers. Here, Kapoor Khan is just a model for the ad that is about the auspicious day falling on 3rd May this year. It is not the eve of the festival as some posts suggest. So, what has bothered the so-called protectors of Hindu traditions? The fact that Kareena Kapoor is not wearing a bindi or her husband’s last name?

Adorning a bindi can be a personal choice or a fashion choice for Khan or any other woman? Does it necessarily mean it is demeaning Hinduism? 

Suggested Reading: Why Is Boycott Malabar Gold Trending On Twitter?

In the recent past, brands have faced social media backlash over various advertisements. Last year the jewellery brand Tanishq twice withdrew its campaigns. The first ad was on interfaith marriage and drew severe criticism from a section of users who alleged it promoted ‘love jihad’.

A manager at a Jewellery brand store in Gujarat was reportedly threatened by two people. The ad in question depicted a Muslim family holding an interfaith baby shower for their pregnant Hindu daughter-in-law. In a statement, the brand said, “The idea behind the Ekatvam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness.” Are interfaith marriages that unheard of in India that we cannot accept them even on television? Why do we not take offence in equal measures when women’s bodies are used to sell men’s perfumes? It is a question we need to ask ourselves. 

A month later, the brand again faced backlash for a Diwali ad that called for cracker-free celebrations. The ad featured actors like Sayani Gupta, Neena Gupta, Alaya Furniturewala, and Nimrat Kaur, who endorsed the message of a cracker-free Diwali. It advised viewers to instead celebrate the festival with family, sweets, positivity, and of course, jewellery. Trolls slammed it saying no one is entitled to preach to Hindus on how to celebrate their festival. The company yet again took the ad down. Have you ever looked at Delhi’s AQI a day after Diwali?

Yesterday, there was another debate about Akshay Kumar apologising for being part of a surrogate ad for a Gutka company. While the outcry on a beloved star lending his face to sell a tobacco brand is justified, this hue and cry over a bindi is not. The matter here is not of a consumer’s health, but of women’s depiction and their right to choose. A woman can wear a bindi, if she likes to. Similarly, she can ditch it if it doesn’t appeal to her- bringing in culture to police what women wear is becoming alarmingly common these days and that should worry us. Women are still fighting hard to be able to live life on their terms, we cannot let political agendas undo all the breakthroughs that we have made. 

The views expressed are the author’s own.