Manyavar’s ‘Kanyadaan’ ad featuring Alia Bhatt stirs controversy, netizens slam brand for painting Hindu ritual as ‘regressive’

Alia Bhatt in the new Manyavar ad

Clothing brand Manyavar finds itself in the midst of a controversy after one of its recently released advertisements again painted Hindu rituals and customs as ‘regressive’. The advertisement featuring Alia Bhatt portrays ‘Kanyadaan’ as an oppressive practice and suggests ‘Kanyamaan’ as an alternative.

Manyavar claimed that it was “Promoting a progressive way of thinking, one tradition at a time!” Apparently, ‘Kanyamaan’ “gives a new spin to wedding rituals, highlighting the idea of respecting brides instead of ‘giving them away’.”

The campaign against the Hindu ritual of Kanyadaan has drawn sharp criticism on social media, with people incensed that time and again only Hindu customs and traditions are targeted while actual oppressive customs of other faiths get a free pass from brands.

People criticised the selectivity of brands repeatedly targeting only Hindu rituals while giving others a free pass.

Social media users rued the fact that not enough awareness is raised against practices such as Nikah-Halala and Triple Talaq but brands have launched a crusade against Hindu traditions.

Others pointed out the stupidity of the whole advertisement, especially at a time when Hindu women have made such great achievements in every walk of life.

Some people also highlighted the complicated history of the Bhatt family, of the time when Alia’s father, Mahesh Bhatt, said that he would have married Pooja Bhatt if she weren’t his daughter.

Needless to say, this isn’t the first time that brands have targeted a Hindu ritual for their marketing campaign. In recent times, many brands, most notably Tanishq, have received severe backlash for their misguided activism.

Furthermore, it is rather perplexing that a Bollywood actress was hired for the advertisement, since the industry is notorious for its exploitation and objectification of women. Brands have time and again targeted the Hindu faith as they are clearly too afraid to raise awareness about the problematic practices of other faiths.

It is clear that the Hindu community is not pleased with the singling out of their religion for overt attacks, as is evident with the backlash against Manyavar. Furthermore, the premise of the whole ad is bizarre, given that the brand is perfectly aware that what they are suggesting is completely cynical and makes no sense at all.

They are completely aware that nobody will change ancient customs based on the recommendation of a clothing brand and yet, they do not really care as it is only about a marketing gimmick and nothing else. Their silence over customs of other faiths that actually harm women does end up revealing a lot about their misguided moral compass.

K Bhattacharjee: Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.