Consumer goods company Dabur on Monday withdrew an advertisement showing a same-sex couple celebrating the Hindu festival Karwa Chauth, hours after Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra warned of legal action against the firm.
The advertisement for Dabur’s beauty brand Fem showed two women performing the customary ritual between couples that involves looking at each other through a sieve.
On Monday, Mishra asked why such advertisements only involved “festivities related to the Hindu religion”.
“Today, they showed a lesbian breaking the fast for Karwa Chauth, looking at her partner through the seive,” he said. “Tomorrow, they will show two boys taking pheras and getting married. This is objectionable.”
Mishra said that he has asked the Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police to examine the ad and direct the company to remove it, failing which legal action will be taken.
The Supreme Court in 2018 decriminalised homosexuality, but same-sex marriages are still prohibited in India.
Subsequently, Dabur announced that the Karwa Chauth campaign has been withdrawn from all its social media handles. “...We unconditionally apologise for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments,” the company said.
Dabur had issued an apology early on Monday as well.
“Dabur and Fem as a brand strive for diversity, inclusion and equality, and we proudly support these values in our organisation and within our communities,” the statement read. “We understand that not everyone will agree with our stance, and we respect their right to hold a different point of view...If we have hurt the sentiments of any individual or group, it was unintentional, and we apologise.”
This is the second time in two weeks that Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have objected to advertisements.
Last week, BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde objected to an advertisement of tyre manufacturing company CEAT that featured actor Aamir Khan. In the advertisement, Khan can be seen advising a group of people to burst firecrackers inside a housing society, and not on the streets.
In a letter to CEAT Chief Executive Officer Anant Vardhan Goenka, Hegde claimed that the advertisement has “created unrest among Hindus”.