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Bharat Matrimony's Holi Ad Draws Flak: Why Are There Calls For Boycott?

Bharat Matrimony released an ad that highlighted the physical and sexual abuse women undergo during Holi.

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Online matrimony service Bharat Matrimony is the latest in the long list of brands that have recently come under fire for alleged "anti-Hindu" campaigns.

What happened? Bharat Matrimony released an advertisement on the occasion of Holi and International Women's Day on 8 March, highlighting how streets are unsafe for women during the festival.

Right-wing affiliated handles on Twitter, however, were quick to call for a boycott of the matrimonial site, alleging that the advertisement is "Hinduphobic" and a part of "anti-Hindu propaganda."

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But what exactly did the ad show? The advertisement featured a woman washing Holi colours off her face, which then revealed a series of bruises and marks of violence. The ad read:

"Some colours don't wash away easy. Harassment during Holi leads to immense trauma. Today, a third of women who've faced this trauma have stopped playing Holi. This Women's Day let's choose to celebrate Holi in a way that is safe and inclusive for women."

Why the backlash? Several handles on Twitter claimed that there was "no need to link Holi, a Hindu festival, with harassment."

They wanted Bharat Matrimony to retract the ad and "apologise for hurting Hindu sentiments."

One user wrote: "A message about Women's Day could easily have been sent without linking it to Holi. But that wasn't the goal. The goal was to vilify Holi. Stop using Hindu festivals for anti-Hindu propaganda. #BoycottBharatMatrimony"

Over 15,000 tweets have gone out with the hashtag #BoycottBharatMatrimony in the last two days. However, the matrimonial site has neither removed the video from its social platforms nor put out any statement regarding the boycott.

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Not the first brand: Bharat Matrimony is the second brand to be called out for its "anti-Holi sentiments" over the past week. Delivery giant Swiggy drew ire after one of its billboard ads said: "Omelette - Sunny side-up - Kisi ke sarr par. #BuraMatKhelo. Get Holi essentials on Instamart."

The ad, in a lighter vein, asked people not to throw eggs at each other for Holi. But after it was put up, many tweeted with the hashtag #HinduphobicSwiggy, urging people to boycott the food and grocery delivery service provider.

Though there has been no official statement from Swiggy, a source told PTI, "The billboard ads were only in Delhi-NCR and have been taken down now."

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In 2019, detergent brand Surf Excel was also criticised for its Holi ad, which called for Hindu-Muslim harmony. The ad showed a Hindu girl helping a Muslim boy escape colours so he could get to the mosque for prayers.

Though the ad drew severe backlash from right-wing groups, who claimed it showed the festival in a bad light, Surf Excel stood by it and refused to take it down.

You can read more about the violence associated with Holi here.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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