Dubai: The recent controversy surrounding jewellery brand Tanishq has not gone down well with some UAE expats. The mixed couples have lived in perfect harmony with each other and their respective families. In interviews to Gulf News, they feel that the controversy has been unnecessary and blown out of proportion as the advertisement did no harm to religious sentiments.
“If anything, it showed love has no boundaries and the advertisement has such a strong human element to it,” said Namita Saifi, 50, who has been happily married for 26 years to Amir Saifi. “The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. Something so simple and beautiful has turned into an ugly affair. When will India grow up?”
Talking of her personal experience, Namita said she married her husband Amir in 1994 when the country was just coming out of communal riots in Mumbai. “We lived in the heart of it all. We saw the damage it did to people and their lives. And yet we decided to get married. This is because we loved and respected each other. This is what India should believe in.”
We lived in the heart of it all. We saw the damage it did to people and their lives. And yet we decided to get married. This is because we loved and respected each other. This is what India should believe in.
– Namita Saifi, 50
‘We did it because we loved each other’
Namita said her family was initially against her wedding. “I belong to the Marwari community. And for us to marry outside our caste is quite unheard of. So marrying a Muslim boy was unthinkable. But we did it because we loved each other. We did not see religion, we saw and believed in the person we fell in love with. That is how India should be. Unfortunately political factions in the country don’t see it that way.”
Namita questioned the level of secularism left in India. “Where is the freedom of expression and speech gone in our country? Why did Tanishq have to apologise for this advertisement and why did they have to pull it out?,” she asked.
Her husband Amir added: “When I saw the advertisement, the first thought that came to my mind was this was so beautiful and sentimental. Obviously it did not go well with our Indian mindset. It is really sad to watch what kind of society we are turning into, intolerant with very shallow mindset.”
‘India is all about unity in diversity’
He said : “India is all about unity in diversity. We come from diverse cultures yet we all live in a big home called India and our constitution gives us the liberty to choose whoever we want to marry. This is an individual choice. We need to be a more tolerant society.”
Archana Kachwala, 54, married to Sohail Kachwala, 55 also agreed there was nothing wrong in the Tanishq advertisement. Just like Namita, Archana too married her husband Sohail in 1992 when communal clashes were high. “We had a court wedding first. We waited for the riots to settle down and we had another formal wedding.”
The couple were childhood sweethearts and knew all the time they had to be together. “That is it. Nothing else matters.”
The mind-set of people needs to change in India to be more progressive. I just feel the ad has been slammed for being something so beautiful and touching.
– Archana Kachwala
The couple were childhood sweethearts and knew all the time they had to be together. “That is it. Nothing else matters,” said Kachwala. “The mind-set of people needs to change in India to be more progressive. I just feel the ad has been slammed for being something so beautiful and touching.”
Tariq Chauhan, 54 could not agree more. Tariq, a Muslim is married to Lovita, a practicing Catholic. “To us religion has never come in the way of our lives. It is a very personal thing, way of life. As a couple we have never enforced religious sentiments on our children. As people we don’t do it with friends or the society. I am a global citizen we have to look for diversity in every context of our lives.”
‘India has moved away from its secular outlines’
He said diversity requires you to respect the freedom of people who want to be free. “I have been very concerned the way in the last couple of years India has moved away from its secular outlines.”
Indian expat Shaheen Rampurawala, 40 who has been married to Hindu man Ashwin Nair, 40 for the last 10 years said: “I am a proud Muslim wife. It is sad that from the advertisement, all that people saw was a mother in law with her head covered and a daughter in law in a set saree. They missed the love and wonder in their eyes. What’s worse is when celebrities use their power to promote negativity. Imagine how many mouths she would have shut if she had said something supportive. The first people to call on Eid are my in-laws and the first people to call on Onam are my parents. We are a happily married couple. I just wish celebrities would think big.”