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India's Tanishq pulls jewelry commercial featuring interfaith couple after backlash

CNN logo CNN 10/13/2020 By Esha Mitra and Emma Reynolds, CNN
a person holding a baby: The commercial from jewelry brand Tanishq features a Muslim mother-in-law throwing a baby shower for her Hindu daughter-in-law. © From Karthik/Twitter The commercial from jewelry brand Tanishq features a Muslim mother-in-law throwing a baby shower for her Hindu daughter-in-law.

Indian jewelry brand Tanishq has withdrawn a commercial featuring an interfaith relationship from social media and television following a backlash online.

The 45-second advertisement for the "Ekatvam (Unity) -- the beauty of oneness" collection showed a Muslim family throwing a traditionally South Indian Hindu baby shower for their pregnant Hindu daughter-in-law.

The daughter-in-law says, "But these rituals aren't celebrated in your home," and the mother-in-law replies, "But the ritual of making daughters happy is in every home."

The hashtag "BoycottTanishq" began trending in India after the Tata Group jewelry brand posted the ad at the weekend.

Tanishq removed the commercial from all platforms Monday, later telling CNN that the film had sparked "divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective."

Some people on social media called for Tanishq to apologize for running the commercial.

Several called the ad "Love Jihad" -- a reference to an Islamophobic theory that claims that Muslim families try to convert Hindu women to Islam under the pretext of love and marriage.

"This advert is wrong on many levels, Hindu bahu [daughter-in-law] is living with the family for significant amount of time but acceptance happens only when she is carrying their heir," actress Kangana Ranaut tweeted on Tuesday. "So what is she just a set of ovaries? This advert does not only promote love-jihad but also sexism #tanishq."

Research scholar Vagisha Soni tweeted that she had been a customer since 2005 and bought her wedding jewelry at Tanishq but would now boycott the company.

But others declared their support for the ad and questioned whether there would be a backlash if the religions were reversed.

Shashi Tharoor, Indian lawmaker and former under-secretary general of the United Nations, posted on Twitter: "So Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] bigots have called for a boycott of ⁦@TanishqJewelry for highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad. If Hindu-Muslim "ekatvam" [unity] irks them so much, why don't they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world -- India?"

Divya Dutta, the Indian actress who provided the voice-over for the ad, tweeted: "Yes it's my voice. It's sad it's taken off air. I loved it."

A spokesperson for Tanishq told CNN: "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.

"This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective.

"We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff."

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