Come the first week of September, and the heart of a Bong beats faster in excitement. It’s time for pandal-hopping and Goddess Durga’s homecoming.
Celebrating the theme of Durga Pujo, Fortune Foods recently released an advertisement showing a Bengali couple eating eating fish and meat.
The ad ended up angering many in the Hindutva group as Durga Pujo collides with Navratri, and the latter is a time when North Indians go on a fast and stay away from non-vegetarian food.
The company, in response, quickly put out an apology. But that, in turn, upset the Bengalis, who said if the ad is aimed at capturing the ‘true spirit of Durga Pujo’, they shouldn’t succumb to such statements.
What Is the Ad All About?
The advertisement opens with a Bengali woman, featuring YouTuber Sawan Dutta, singing, “The woman of the house are tense and the house resembles a land of hungry rakshasas,”. A man comes in responding, “My hunger is invincible, let the war begin,”.
The ad goes on to show the woman cook various veg and non-veg Pujo-themed dishes, and ends with the punch line, ‘May the Pujo be prosperous, may the pet pujo (worship of the stomach, as in eating) begin’.
The Hindutva Anger
The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, a Hindutva group, posted their objections to the advertisement on their website, saying it was an insult to their faith.
“Along with this, non-vegetarian food is prohibited during Navrati [the worship of Goddess Durga in North India]. In this advertisement, the husband fasts for Navratri but on Navami, the wife feeds the husband mutton kosha and fish made using Fortune Oil. Since this food is so tasty, the husband is forced to break his fast. This is an egregious insult to our Hindu faith.”
They took to social media to voice their dissent with the hashtag #BoycottFortuneFoods.
Many echoed their sentiments:
An Apology That Triggered Another Controversy
Fortune Foods responded to their post on Facebook by apologising for hurting religious sentiments.
“It has come to our notice that the Pet Pujo video has hurt the sensibilities of many communities, as it depicts consumption of non-vegetarian food during Navaratri. This was not intentional and we will withdraw the video from circulation other than in West Bengal where it is common practice to eat both vegetarian and non vegetarian food. We wish to respect all communities and apologize unconditionally if we have hurt anyone unknowingly.”
While this may have pleased the Hindutva groups, it angered Bengalis.
Bongs argued that if the ad was meant for them, issuing an apology for showing non-vegetarian food being cooked in a Bengali household, which is the norm there, is like embarrassing the Bengalis.
They took to Twitter as well, to boycott Fortune Foods but for other reasons.