On October 31, fashion magazine Elle decided to target Hindus for trying to preserve the sanctity of the Hindu festival Diwali. In a post, they shared an illustration of men with Saffron Angvastra or Stole and accused Hindus of attacking brands that have been trying to change the very ethos of the festival. The illustration is designed by one Lord_VoldeMaut, a 19-year-old “artist” who often post anti-Hindu content on Twitter and Instagram. His profile on both social media platforms is currently locked.
In Elle’s Instagram post, it was mentioned that one should “Head to the link in its Instagram profile’s bio to learn more about the politics of shades and silhouettes – India’s latest fashion trend”. When checked, the link redirects to Elle’s Linkin page that has the same image as the Instagram post. When we clicked the image, it redirected to an article written by Ruman Baig titled “Politics Of Shades & Silhouettes – India’s Latest Fashion Trend” published on Elle’s official website. In the allegedly satirical post, Baig has tried to vent her frustration over Hindus raising voices to save the festival.
In the post, Elle and the author tried to defend the brands that tried to “over-secularise” Diwali that is a Hindu festival in every sense. The post read, “it’s the recurring season where Indian fashion labels are schooled on how to creatively incorporate religion while designing their campaigns. Last year, @tanishqjewellery received a non-violent lesson on how to showcase jewellery without meddling with the ancient Hindu-Muslim narrative. Recently, @fabindiaofficial released and pulled down a Diwali campaign titled – Jashn-e-Riwaz. Little did they know that the term means long-live Muslims in Urdu and is a secret ode to the Mughals.” The author completely ignored the fact that Diwali is a Hindu festival. It belongs to Hindus and removing the term Diwali from a collection that celebrates the “Festival of Light” i.e. literally Diwali, is nothing but “over-secularization” of Hindu festivals.
The author seems to have been irked by the fact that the Hindus, who have kept silent for decades, are now raising their voice against the drama that the fashion industry has been trying to impose on them. The post added, “the fashion fraternity must learn how to not let their imaginations run free – a salwar for a Muslim woman is set in stone, and so is a bindi for a Hindu lady.” Interestingly, the author forgot that Salwar-Kameez is also a very common dress among Sikh and Hindu women, especially in North India. It was part of the culture before the “over-zealous” fashion industry entered the Indian market.
The author also pointed out how Hindu groups were not pleased by the usage of the wrong meaning of Kanyadaan when the jewellery brand Manyawar tried to change it to “Kanyamaan” in an ad featuring Alia Bhatt. The actual meaning of Kanyadaan that neither the author nor the jewellery brand is aware of can be read in detail here. As per other texts on ‘kanyadaan’, the mantra, japas and other actions performed at the time of the ritual signify the bride as Laxmi. The symbolic act of the bride’s father giving away his daughter to Narayan (the groom) is considered as him making his daughter the ‘grace’ of somebody else’s house.
The author connected the outrage of the Tata Cliq ad to the colour of dresses, which was green. In reality, it was against the sad faces and not-so-festival looks of the ad. Green colour might be not even the minds of those who had objected to the ad. Elle, on the other hand, handpicked post(s) that target the colour of the dress to make it look as if Hindus want to target the colour green.
Interestingly, Hindus had merely taken to social media to express their displeasure over the distortion of their festival. Elle, however, portrayed Hindus as a violent lot vandalising stores, a classic move to demonise Hindus. The men who were “vandalising” these stories in the cartoon posted by Elle, the men were wearing saffron scarves and one of the men was seen sporting a Kalawa.
Elle has summarily glossed over the fact that any fashion brand would not dare to give Sanskrit names to Muslim festivals or showcase a Muslim woman wearing sindoor and other patently Hindu ‘shringaar’ for Muslim festivals. However, the religious sentiments of Hindus seem to mean paltry little to Elle.
Elle, the fashion magazine, and the author Baig are trying to look progressive. It would be interesting to see if they try similar “gyan-filled” ads with the festivals of other religions and see how they react.