Clothing brand FabIndia has removed a promotional capsule about its new festive line after a backlash from right-wing groups. While the brand has been accused of “distorting” the Hindu festival of Diwali by naming its festive collection as Jashn-e-Riwaaz (Celebration of Traditions), the company insisted it is not a Diwali collection, which will soon be launched under the title Jhilmil The Si Diwali Show.
India’s Fab went viral on social media for what some said was elevating secularism and Islamic ideologies at a Hindu festival, saying it hurt their religious sentiments. After the Jashn-e-Riwaaz group posted on Twitter on October 9, some social media users called for a boycott of the brand, making their campaign one of the hottest trends.
A company spokesperson said: “At FabIndia we have always advocated celebrating India with its myriad traditions in all forms. Our current range of products under the name Jashn-e-Riwaaz is a celebration of Indian traditions. The phrase means this, literally. The capsule is not a set Our Diwali products. Diwali collection called “Jhilmil si Diwali” is yet to be launched.” Jashn-e-Riwaaz is a phrase in Urdu, the language that was born in India.
“While we welcome the Festival of Love and Light, Fabindia’s Jashn-e-Riwaaz is a group that beautifully pays tribute to Indian culture,” said the tweet, which went viral on Monday. This was deleted after the backlash.
BJP chief Yuva Morcha, Tejas in Syria, was among those who criticized the announcement in a Twitter post. “Deepavali is not Jash-e-Riwaaz. This deliberate attempt to highlight Hindu festivals, depicting models without traditional Hindu clothing, should be called upon. And brands like fabindiaNews should face an economic cost to such deliberate adventures.”
Writer Shefali Vidya, who is known for her right-wing views, has criticized Fab India for its “ditching Hinduism” festivals. WowFabindiaNews Great job at de-Hinduising Deepawali! Call it ‘Love and Light Festival’, name the group ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’, and keep Bendis away from supermodels, but expect Hindus to buy your expensive and mass-produced products. In the name of ‘honoring Indian culture’ she tweeted.
The hashtag #BoycottFabindia soon started trending. FabIndia did not say why it deleted the tweet.
The ethnic retail giant isn’t the first brand to face attacks by the right and falter under pressure. Jewelery brand Tanishq, a subsidiary of the Tata Group, was forced to pull an ad showing a couple of different faiths at a baby shower organized by their Muslim parents for the Hindu bride.
The advertisement was withdrawn after phishing quickly spread to physical threats to company employees and stores. Clothing brand Maniavar was also on the receiving end when its ad featuring Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in bridal attire appeared to call into question an old tradition.
Established in 1960, FabIndia sources its products from villages to help provide and maintain rural employment in India. According to reports, the products are currently being produced by more than 40,000 artisans and craftsmen across India. In 2019, a Holi ad from Surf Excel received similar criticism by certain groups, as it showed children of two different faiths celebrating the Festival of Colours.