Manyavar ad, Kanyadaan and regressive Hindutva frenzy: Ladies, don't fall for it!

The mad rush to criticise a harmless ad without paying attention to the fact that it's promoting gender equality reflects how flippant, regressive and unreasonable we have become

Screen grab from the video
Screen grab from the video

Pragati Saxena

So, people need something or the other to glorify or chastise something or some person on social media. Ironically, a medium which was meant to 'connect' us all together on a global level, has turned out to be a major platform to bring in more and more distances between us humans. Well, let's not digress.

This time, the social media frenzy has focused on a beautiful advertisement about a clothing brand. The advertisements are meant to be beautiful and catchy so that they can leave an imprint on your mind to draw you to that particular brand. Manyavar tried to achieve the same. Alas! it tried to look a bit progressive and modern too! It tried to say that Kanya's (a daughter's) maan (respect) is more important than her daan (giving away).

You can watch the advertisement here:

Now several so-called Hindus, who think that they have all the knowledge about their religion jumped in the fray of, well, telling all the others how the advertisement has misinterpreted a 'beautiful' tradition. So much so that a wise and knowledgeable lady put up a video explaining that it's actually not 'Kanyadaan' but the entire ritual symbolizes a girl leaving her father's 'gotra' and accepting her husband's.

Well, well, the wise lady forgot that the girl still is leaving a male's gotra and accepting another male's gotra! The bottom line is that a girl has to accept a 'gotra' which belongs to a dominating male in her life, be it her father or her husband. The apparent sexism in this ritual was comfortably ignored by all. Moreover, the ad is not even saying that you should give up this tradition, it's simply making it, let's say, more up-to-date.

And then there is this fashionable tendency among the social media savvy 'Hindus'. Whatever be the topic, they will start Islam-bantering. Hence, many of our wise ones started criticising the tradition of 'Mehr' in Muslim marriages! That's beyond being ridiculous!

Wait, there's more! Many people did not stop here. They started criticising Alia Bhatt! The criticism went on to the extent of mud-slinging and well intimidating too. Is it the objective of such criticism? To intimidate so much that the other person/ people/ company withdraws, no matter how bizarre the idea is?

Back to the backlash the advertisement is facing. It is tragic to see several women coming up against this advertisement saying that it misinterprets a ritual, while the ad just harmlessly tries to promote respect and equality for women! Ladies, please understand - to make a slave believe that the slavery is ideal for him/her, is the most powerful tool in the hands of patriarchal/repressive society. And alas, you are all falling prey to it.

Leave aside the origin of the ritual and all the 'facts' about it, let's just focus on the mad rush to 'defend' something about which we really don't know much and literally assault something which apparently is in good taste, and is promoting gender equality.

It makes me wonder: Why are we all always glorifying our past, traditions, rituals, Vedas, Ayurveda? Is it simply because our lives and times in the last few years have become so stressed, lackluster and grim that we want to desperately hold on to the past no matter how redundant it is? or, is it because we have failed to build on something as beautiful on the foundation of that magnificent past?

Whatever it is, it makes any person with a reasonable mind feel agitated over all the foolish comments on social media, more so, when we, as a society are grappling with more relevant and challenging issues of poverty, unemployment, pandemic, to name a few.

I hope that some good sense prevails upon our fellow beings. Our religion and culture have endured and flourished for centuries without people getting so aggressive and insecure about it, it will in future too. What matters is that we need to be sane, rational, progressive and willing to change with the changing times for a better future. Let Manyavar and Alia Bhatt live in peace, for God's sake! Let us please focus on our lives, jobs (which are very few) and problems (which are aplenty!).

Views are personal

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