On the one hand, India seems proud of its diversity, but on the other hand, has no qualms in disparaging it at a moments notice. That’s what the taking down of Fabindia’s ad of “Jashn-e-Riwaaz” signifies.
The backlash they received was because people were opposed to the idea of Urdu being used in the context of a Hindu festival (Diwali). People were also upset at the absence of “Bindis” in the ad.
However, Fabindia claimed it wasn’t for their Diwali collection. “Our Diwali collection called ‘Jhilmil Si Diwali’ is yet to be launched,” a company spokesperson said. The statement might be true, but then why did they take down the ad if it wasn’t meant for the Diwali collection? Buckling under Hindutva pressure is nothing new; Tanishq can testify.
Why were people against the idea of Urdu being used? Is it that the right-wing and others who sympathise with the take that Urdu is “foreign” to the Hindu identity not like things to sound good? Because, honestly, “Jashn-e-Riwaaz” sounds way better than “Jhilmil Si Diwali”.
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As someone born into a Muslim family, it’d be inappropriate for me to impose my beliefs on a festival associated with a different religion. But are certain languages part of certain beliefs? Does my comprehension of being able to read and write Hindi make me a Hindu by default?
Where did the idea of Urdu being “Muslim” and Hindi being “Hindu” come from?
It’s believed that Urdu originated in India several centuries back in Punjab. The language then flourished in parts of Delhi and Haryana. It also formed the basis of the Dakhni (Deccani) language in the South.
In the Indian context, it is essentially British ignorance and arrogance and right-wing imposition that led to Persianised and Sanskritised versions of India’s languages being associated with Muslims and Hindus, respectively.
Hindi, even as a standalone language, has several dialects across the country. So which one dialect is the one true form of Hindi?
And what about those who don’t speak Hindi at all? Are they not Indian since the right-wing wants Hindi to be granted the status of national language?
Deepavali is not Jash-e-Riwaaz.
This deliberate attempt of abrahamisation of Hindu festivals, depicting models without traditional Hindu attires, must be called out.
— Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) October 18, 2021
BJP MP Tejasvi Surya said the ad was an “attempt of abrahamisation of Hindu festivals”. He also called for a financial boycott of the company. The same man cribbed about “free speech” when Twitter suspended Donald Trump.
As an MP representing the Banglore South constituency, it’s either his ignorance or a deliberate attempt at his part to stoke communal tensions that he has forgotten the influence Urdu has on many Indian regional languages, including Kannada.
Urdu is one of the official languages in states like Kashmir, Telangana, UP, Bihar, New Delhi and West Bengal. Delhi Police’s first FIR in 1861 was written in Urdu.
In trying to impose a language in India, what people have also done is impose Urdu as the language of Muslims. In this way, the right-wing has succeeded in not only trying to polarise the languages, but they’ve also managed to create a communal divide in India. Even if Urdu was “foreign”, there’s no justification for the vilification of a people based on language.
When Nehru said, “Yeh meri aur mere bap-dada’on ki bhasha hai (This is my language and the language of my ancestors),” he was told, “Brahman hote hue Urdu ko apni bhasha kehte ho, sharam nahin ati (Being a Brahman, aren’t you ashamed of calling Urdu your language)?”
It seems like there hasn’t been a change in how we view languages, and different groups of people at large.
Those who support the idea of a uniform language need to understand that it’s inherently antithetical to the idea of diversity that India holds on to. Thus, they oppose the idea of being a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic—the basis of India’s Constitution.