Designer Sabyasachi retracts mangalsutra ad after BJP threats

Hyderabad: The spree of retracting advertisement campaigns continues in India with fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s label being the latest to succumb to the right-wing pressure and threats. His label pulled down the promotional material for its mangalsutra collection after Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra threatened to send the police force.

The designer’s company announced to withdraw the campaign in an Instagram story. “In the context of making heritage and culture a dynamic conversation, the Mangalsutra campaign aimed to talk about inclusivity and empowerment. The campaign was intended as a celebration, and we are deeply saddened that it has instead offended a section of our society. So, we at Sabyasachi have decided to withdraw the campaign,” the company wrote.

The move came after Narottam Mishra warned the company of legal action if it did not withdraw the ad campaign. “I have warned earlier about such advertisements. I am personally warning designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, giving him a 24-hour ultimatum. If this objectionable and obscene advertisement is not withdrawn, then a case will be registered against him, and legal action will be taken. The police force will be sent for the action,” the minister told the media on October 31.

He called the advertisement ‘objectionable’ and said the mangalsutra is “jewelry of paramount importance”.

“Why do such painful incidents take place only with Hindu symbols? If Mukherjee has courage, he should do it with some other religion, then we will understand that he is a real brave man,” Narottam Mishra added.

On Monday, Mishra tweeted a video of him saying, “Sabyasachi Mukherjee has withdrawn the objectionable advertisement after my post. If he repeats such a thing, then direct action will be taken, no warning will be given. I appeal to him and those like him to not hurt sentiments of people.”

The mangalsutra advertisement by Sabyasachi’s brand portrayed a woman wearing a low-neckline dress and posing solo and in an intimate position with a man. After the designer shared these pictures, it created a controversy as a section of social media users termed it against Hindu culture and obscene.

Last week, Dabur India Private Limited had withdrawn its Fem cream bleach advertisement after Mishra termed the ad as objectionable and warned that legal steps would be taken against it. The ad showed same-sex couple celebrating Karva Chauth and watching each other through a sieve.

Ethnic brand Fabindia was also attacked for naming its collection ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’ – because it invoked Urdu phrasing.

Tire manufacturers Ceat also faced backlash for featuring actor Aamir Khan after Karnataka BJP MP, Anantkumar Hegde, slammed the brand for an “anti-Hindu” message – urging people not to light Diwali crackers on roads.