In October, a jewellery advertisement that showed a Hindu-Muslim marriage came under fire for allegedly promoting 'love jihad.' So much so that the brand thought it was best to take down the video and completely wash their hands of it. A few weeks later, to counter the unnecessary hate, three journalists started 'India Love Project' - an Instagram page that features personal stories of Indian couples who got married against all odds.
India Love Project's Instagram display picture is a still from the Tanishq ad that received backlash in October, making the connection fairly obvious.
Founded by journalists Priya Ramani, Samar Halarnkar and Niloufer Venkatraman, the Instagram description of the account reads, "Love and marriage outside the shackles of faith, caste, ethnicity and gender." In a very short span of time, the account has garnered over 6,000 followers (as of 10 November).
India Love Project officially kicked off on 28 October with a story that's quite close to one of the founders. Niloufer Venkatraman shared the heartwarming story of her Parsi mother and her Hindu father. The page posts one story every day. These are stories of real people who come from different religions, ethnicities, backgrounds etc.
Speaking about what pushed the founders to start this initiative, Samar Halarnkar told BBC, "There is a narrative that there are other, more insidious, motives for marriage, that love is being weaponised. But we didn't know anyone who was thinking like that, who had any other motive than love for getting married."
Harlarnkar adds that the idea was to give people a platform to share their story, "Every day we hear from people who say 'I want to tell my story, or my parents' story or my grandparents' story. It also shows that interfaith and inter-community marriages are not new, they were happening all along."
The stories are short, incredibly heartening and affectionate. They don't romanticise the struggle of straying away from the mainstream idea of 'arranged marriage.' Instead they highlight the couple's lives together and what it means to them.
(With inputs from BBC)
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