Earlier this year, Indian clothing company Manyavar released an advert starring India’s Cricket Captain and celebrity Virat Kholi, titled ‘Virat Kholi Against Boundaries’. The advert sees the cricketer walk through India and simultaneously celebrate Holi, Eid and Diwali. He joins children playing with colours, he is fed Eid sweets by a lady he affectionately calls Chaachi (Urdu for aunt) and then enters a room decorated for Diwali while speaking of the church bells of Christmas and the food offered at Langar.
‘Hastey chehroon main dhoondo. Kaun Mahesh hai, kaun Micheal?’
Look in to smiling faces, you can’t tell who is Mahesh and who is Michael.
As Virat walks through India’s festivals he reminds us that everyone eats the Langar food handed out by Sikhs, that no one misses out on the sweet dish made at Eid, the lights of Diwali do not shine to just one religion and everyone hears the Christmas bells. The message is one of community, and using religious festivals which all share the common message of love, celebration and togetherness, as a stepping stone for this.
Diwali is not just a holiday for me. It is a time of festivities, a time where happiness is shared, and in abundance, with friends old and new. Diwali, like all the diyas and fairy lights, is bright and serene, contrasted by beautiful, vivid, and attention-grabbing fireworks.
Hindu or Muslim, Diwali is a festival for all. And no matter what anyone thinks or does, I will be celebrating the festival of lights, just like how I have since many years.”
– A Muslim speaking to the Hindustan Times
The concept of this advert is bringing together communities and reminding India that:
Har tyohaar hai India ha tyohaar
Every celebration, is India’s celebration
While the advert is still a campaign to sell more male festive wear, the message cannot be ignored. India is a country of 1.3 billion people, speaking 122 major languages with multiple faiths woven into the core of this nation. Coming together through celebrations regardless of faith, much like prior to 1947, is a step in the right direction.
On the other side of border in Pakistan, Muslims are the majority with an estimate of between 3-5% being from minority faiths, including Hinduism. In 2015, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians came together to celebrate Diwali.
“Objective of holding this unique gathering was to give a message to the outer world that mutual co-existence does exist in Pakistan where everyone is free to live his life in accordance with his wishes and religious norms.” – Haroon Sarab Diyal, All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement
Festivals are joyous occasions which allow us to reflect and come together as a stronger community.