Hindustan Unilever came under heavy fire on on social media on Thursday over an ad film it shared on Twitter with a caption that many felt derided the Kumbh Mela, a mass pilgrimage and the largest gathering of Hindus in the world. The consumer goods giant known for products such as Surf Excel, Lux, Kwality Walls, Fair and Lovely, Vaseline and others shared an ad for its ‘Red Label Tea’.
Hindustan Unilever tweeted: “Kumbh Mela is a place where the old get abandoned, isn’t it sad that we do not care for our elders? Red Label encourages us to hold the hands of those who made us who we are. Watch the heartwarming video; an eye opener to a harsh reality.”
The ad told a short story of a son who is thinking of abandoning his ageing father in the crowd at Kumbh Mela but later realises his mistake and returns to share a cup of tea with his old father.
Many said the advert hurt the sentiments of Hindus and portrayed the Kumbh Mela in a bad light. Several influential Twitter profiles posted tweets demanding a complete boycott of Hindustan Unilever products.
The old man from Himachal pradesh was with his son, Son did not abandoned him.
The lady with bag in her hand brought her parents to the Kumbh, She too did not abandoned them…
Stop defame Hinduism#BoycottHULProducts #BoycottHindustanUnilever pic.twitter.com/PhzxXrd2Ys
(@nanditathhakur) March 7, 2019
“#BoycottHindustanUnilever” remained a top trend on Twitter for most of the day on Thursday.
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, whose Patanjali is a rival of Hindustan Unilever, also condemned the advert.
From East India Co to @HUL_News that s their true character. Their only agenda is to make the country poor economically & ideologically. Why shld we not boycott them? For them everything, every emotion is just a commodity. For us parents are next to Gods #BoycottHindustanUnilever https://t.co/suozbymLBI
Swami Ramdev (@yogrishiramdev) March 7, 2019
Hindustan Unilever (@HUL_News) March 7, 2019
Looks like @HUL_News has deleted the video. But you see we know ur brands. As such I don’t use 90 % of these. Balance brands also I am going to stop. Sharing this with all my family circles. Enough of Hindu insults by ur company. There is a limit. #BoycottHindustanUnilever https://t.co/oZKypnmhwM
krithika sivaswamy (@krithikasivasw) March 7, 2019
However, as angry comments started trickling in, the consumer goods giant reposted the ad on Twitter with a new caption, Red Label Chai encourages us to hold the hands of those who made us who we are. Watch the heart-warming video #ApnoKoApnao (sic).
This year, the Kumbh Mela saw crores of people taking part in the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj (Allahabad), taking a dip in the confluence of three rivers – – the Ganges, the Yamuna and a mythological one, the Saraswati – which is considered holy in Hinduism. As per the Hindu belief, taking dips in the Ganges during the Kumbh beginning January 15 to March 31, washes away the sins of the people.
The government spent over Rs. 4,000 crore on the big event, as per the state government. The world’s largest religious festival was overseen by both the central and Uttar Pradesh state governments, both of which are ruled by the BJP. The Kumbh Mela drew to a close on March 4.