Breaking Down The Recent Bharat Matrimony Controversy

After the infamous controversy surrounding Chavara Matrimony, another matrimonial site is now in troubled waters. The advertisement released by Bharat Matrimony on Holi took the internet by rage leading to a massive controversy and even calling for a boycott of the company and its services. 

What is the advertisement?

The Bharat Matrimony advertisement featured a woman joyfully washing the Holi colours off her face. As the advertisement progresses, she looks into the mirror and notices that the red and yellow Holi colours are washing away. But the bruises on her face, evidence of domestic violence, including a swollen lip and discoloured eye, become visible. This is followed by a message from Bharat Matrimony regarding spreading awareness for domestic violence during Holi. 

It might come across as an infotainment attempt on a simple plane, but why is the advertisement under scrutiny? The various arguments on the internet are simplified ahead, dividing the opinions in favour and against the advertisement.

Arguments in favour of the advertisement 

  • Social awareness:

Indian audience was yet to see an advertisement which depicted domestic violence in plain sight. Domestic violence being called out by a matrimonial site is a push in the right direction. The social awareness element is present and even depicted uniquely. 

  • Appealing to the majority who celebrate the festival:

Holi is a festival celebrated by most of India in various ways and a significant festival for the Hindu community. This advertisement might have attempted to appeal to that community and spread a social message while wishing the community the season’s wishes. But was it fair to the community who might see it as an equation of domestic violence to its religious sentiments?

Arguments against the favour of the advertisement 

  • Not a topic that is supposed to be associated with religion:

Domestic violence is not a topic that needs to be associated with a particular community or religion. In the 21st century, when domestic violence and marital rape are being discussed, the advertisement could have reached a wider audience by including others. Though it may not have been the company’s intention, the Hindu sentiments seem to have been hurt by associating a general yet critical topic of domestic violence with a celebratory and a specific community. Who is in the right? 

  • Tolerance of and by religions

This is a tricky quotient, and the thoughts must be subtly conveyed. In the current political scenario, religion is a volatile subject matter and needs to be treated as one. A simple advertisement conveying Holi wishes, combined with the message of domestic violence, sparks controversy by stating that it’s often the Hindu religion targeted for the benefit of advertisements. 

This situation brought to mind the controversy regarding the document released by PETA condemning the slaughter of goats during Eid and forced to take it down post the severe backlash from the Muslim community, who considered it an attack on their religious beliefs. Another example is the various environmental activists who spoke against cutting trees for Christmas, which caused massive deforestation in the West. It was said to hurt the feelings of the Christian communities and Churches who believed it was targeted against them.

During such unrest, this advertisement raises the question of how religiously tolerant we are. How do different religions practise tolerance, and is the tolerance blindsided by the beliefs we hold close? 

The question of if we are woke or if it’s just a bandwagon effect where we blindly follow hate is a debate for another time. Selective outrage, especially in the case of religions or a religious community, is volatile. We are in no position to give a verdict, but we have presented both sides. Let us know your opinions in the comments below! 

Shivani Sarat
Content writer and creator. Author of 'Black Daises', a poetry anthology.

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