The festival of Navratri is all about celebration, good food, and fervour for most, but strangely, for some, this period has turned into an episode of intolerance yet again (remember how celeb hairstylist Javed Habib was slammed when his ad campaign depicted Durga Ma). So this time apparently, the devil is a condom advertisement featuring Sunny Leone. The advertisement has the tagline – Aa Navratri a ramo, parantu premthi, which translates to Play but with love, this Navratri.
The aforementioned advertisement features Sunny Leone in a sultry position (because it’s a condom ad). The tagline urges people to be careful while having fun (read sex) during the festival and use condoms. Check out the ad here:
This did not go down well with many and the protestors said it demeaned the festival. For these people, Navratri only means worshipping the deity and implying that people have sex during these days (as if sex is FORBIDDEN by God) is completely wrong. So a fringe group called Hindi Yuva Vahini took this opportunity to speak about all the ways Hindus were offended. Narendra Choudhary, the leader of the group told a leading daily:
The message in Gujarati on the hoarding reads ‘Aa Navratri a ramo, parantu premthi’ – this Navratri, play but with love. The insinuation on the hoardings from a condom brand insults the religious sentiments of Hindus
The virtual world of the internet also saw reactions on this topic. Here are few tweets slamming the advertisement:
— Riya महादेवभक्त (@riyathedevotee) September 19, 2017
— Aakash Jain (@CantstopulovinM) September 19, 2017
हद है इन सालों को हिन्दू धर्म का मजाक बनाने में बहुत मजा आती है
— Ashish Sharma (@iamAshish2611) September 19, 2017
@narendramodi ji Mankind pharma put hording of Sunny Leone in vulgar dress with manforce condom Ad in every of Navratra is this justified ?
— क्रूर तानाशाह (@maheshtibrewal) September 18, 2017
And of course, Sunny Leone had to come into the picture:
Since it was Sunny Leone’s face which featured in the advertisement, she came at the receiving end of flak (like always). National Secretary General of CAIT, Praveen Khandelwal wrote a letter to Minister for Consumer Affair, Ram Vilas Paswan asking a ban on the advertisement. He called it a ‘clear irresponsible and immature attempt to boost sales by putting all our cultural value system at stake’. He also accused Sunny of being irresponsible and using the pious festival of Navratri to promote herself. In the letter he wrote, he has accused that Sunny used this advertisement to earn money.
Here’s the copy of the said letter:
The entire ruckus about the issue did get the advertisement pulled down from Gujarat. Latest media reports suggest that the advertisement has been pulled down from many places in Surat. The Commissioner of Police, Satish Sharma said:
We have brought such hoardings down, as the advertisement was of condoms and it should not be linked up with the religious festivals and even photo of Sunny Leone was semi-nude. We have received complaints from the public and we brought down the hoardings
The senselessness of the outrage:
Those who have been condemning this hoarding clearly did not get their facts right. But when do the haters ever walk that extra mile to make any sense? Never! This outrage is absurd because, during Navratri, citizens of Gujarat get a lot of sex as opposed to what people think.
The sale of condoms and other sex products increases multifold. A report by sexual wellness products destination ThatsPersonal reads:
The sale of sex products including condoms go up at this time. Products like adult games, edible lingeries, edible body paints and pleasure rings do well during Navaratri too. Smaller towns in Gujarat like Rajkot, Baroda and Bhuj love lubricants, adult games, penis pumps, sexy lingerie and intimate massagers.
This is not the only proof. A report published in Economic Times in October 2016 also pointed towards this increase in sales. Apparently, sales of condoms witnesses a growth of 25 percent to 50 percent. In fact, top market players like Durex plan a marketing strategy to coincide with the festival. The Head of marketing of Durex, Rohit Jindal, told the daily the purpose behind these well thought of plans. He said that the company wanted to debunk the myth around sex and normalise conversation around intercourse.
A look at the above statements and it becomes difficult to understand the point of haters. What exactly is the point of outrage? That the advertisement having Sunny Leone promotes safe sex or that Gujaratis don’t have sex during Navratri? In both the cases, it is mindless, because safe sex isn’t bad and neither is having sex during a festival. On top of all this, it will only be good for the society that we normalise conversations around sex sooner than later. Pulling down the advertisement and talking ill about Sunny Leone will not do any good to anyone.
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