On Monday, October 18, popular clothing brand FabIndia found itself at the receiving end of a social media backlash over their new advertisement which highlights cultural diversity and is allegedly called Diwali, Jashn-e-Riwaaz in Urdu meaning celebration of a custom or tradition. 

The virtual uproar began after Tejasvi Surya, BJP Youth leader took to his Twitter account to share his views on the ad which was released at the beginning of the month. 

"Deepavali is not Jash-e-Riwaaz. This deliberate attempt of abrahamisation of Hindu festivals, depicting models without traditional Hindu attires, must be called out. And brands like @FabindiaNews must face economic costs for such deliberate misadventures," he stated in his tweet.

A screenshot from the Jashn-e-Riwaaz advertisement by FabIndia
A screenshot from the Jashn-e-Riwaaz advertisement by FabIndiaYoutTube

Soon the tweet was picked up by others and netizens and the brand began to receive criticism not just for their choice of words for representing Diwali but also for selling exorbitantly priced clothes.

Annadani Patil expressed, "I am really appalled by the Audacity of this Ad company and FabIndia at this time to run this Ad when the sensitivity is so high with such acts by the companies. A Challenge!! It's outright intentional, and mischief, no doubt."

Another social media user Uday Sripathi mentioned on YouTube, "Well I kind of get the backlash. Not taking any sides and definitely not a bhakt or sanghi but let's say Fabindia makes an ad during Id and says "Id Mubarak - A Sanskriti collection" or an "Utsav collection" and show actors wearing Kanchi Silk Sarees, Dhotis etc it would definitely be out of place."

The ad shows multi-cultural people dressed in FabIndia clothing celebrating together
The ad shows multi-cultural people dressed in FabIndia clothing celebrating togetherYouTube

FabIndia, founded by John Bissell, an American working for the Ford Foundation, began its operations in India in 1960 as a furnishings company and later turned to the retail garment and home furnishing business in 1976. The current Chairman of the company is William Nanda Bissell with Viney Singh as the CEO. 

However, a major section of netizens said the controversy was uncalled for, while some others described that the row was created over no reason. 

By evening, the brand got into damage control mode with the hashtag boycott fabIndia circulating across social media and pulled down, not just the ad from its YouTube page, but all promotional material from its other social accounts, making it traceless on official accounts while it continues to exist on a few user pages. 

According to a statement given by FabIndia spokesperson to the TOI, the advertisement which was all about candle lights, new traditional clothing, and festivities had nothing to do with Diwali. 

"Our Diwali collection, called "Jhilmil si Diwali" is yet to be launched," she said adding, "We at Fabindia have always stood for celebration of India with its myriad traditions in all hues. In fact 'Fabindia – Celebrate India' is our tagline and also a wordmark. Our current capsule of products under the name Jashn-e-Riwaaz is a celebration of Indian traditions. The phrase means that, literally."