HBO India displayed an amazing level of Aurangzebiat (Hindu hatred) when it equated the Aghori and other Hindu Panths (sects) with some kind of horror cult. In a tweet (since deleted) announcing the launch of its new series titled Doctor Sleep, the channel asks Bharatiyas to list the “cult” that scares them the most.
HBO India used this as a line of promotion for Stephen King’s movie Doctor Sleep that is set to premiere on its channel on 31st October which is celebrated as Halloween in the West. The movie that released in 2019 is an adaptation of King’s 2013 novel by the same name.
The plot revolves around how the central character Danny tries to protect teenager Abra gifted with an extrasensory ability (called shine) from cult leader Rose who seeks immortality by feeding off the shine of innocent people.
To promote this movie, HBO India used the caption “from Aghori Babas to Brahma Kumaris, which Indian cult sends a chill down your spine”? The plotline is not remotely connected with the practices of either of the Hindu sects.
Furthermore, none of the Hindu sects are “horror or fear-inducing”. This is a deliberate distortion of the practices of certain sections of the Bharatiya Hindu society either out of ignorance or arrogance or a combination of both.
CNN had made a similar attempt at presenting the Aghoris as a cannibalistic sect in its series Believer hosted by Reza Aslan. Even Bollywood regularly attempts to project devotees of Maa Kali as bloodthirsty killers which are far removed from reality.
Bollywood villains are rarely "Paanch Waqt Ka Namazi"
They are Janeu-Tilakdhaari Kali Bhakts
Bollywood made world believe Kali bhakts are khatarnaak pic.twitter.com/WsxBt3Mluv
— Gems of Bollywood (@GemsOfBollywood) October 25, 2020
Hindu Dharma is as diverse as it gets and each sect has its place in society. Each sect has the freedom to practice its rituals in the manner it deems fit without authority such as a Pope or Imam dictating terms to it.
This diversity and the respect accorded to each sect is most apparent during the auspicious Kumbh Mela when Hindus irrespective of caste, creed, and sect unite as one to celebrate the divine.
However, for a jaundiced eye, the world is always yellow. Looking at Bharat from the Western lens can often blur one’s vision. Equating Halloween with certain Tantra sects is like equating oranges and mangoes.
As per constitutional provisions under Article 25, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health”. HBO’s tweet infringes on the freedom of religion rights accorded to the said Hindu sects by the country’s constitution.
This depiction of a religious group is deliberate targeting. It violates violates freedom of religion enshrined in our Constitution. pic.twitter.com/ndIYmgDcme
— Sanjeev Sanyal (@sanjeevsanyal) October 29, 2020
HBO India has since tendered an apology following the backlash on Twitter and said that they take full responsibility for the hurtful and insensitive post and would ensure that such an error is not repeated in the future.
HBO takes complete responsibility for and apologies unreservedly for its recent hurtful and insensitive post.This is an unprecedented error of judgment and we do not condone any disrespect of beliefs, faiths and cultures.
— HBO India (@HBOINDIA) October 29, 2020
We will ensure that this is not repeated and our communications are more sensitive going forward.
— HBO India (@HBOINDIA) October 29, 2020
However, it must be mentioned that hurting Hindu sentiments, abusing and misrepresenting Hindu religious practices, and attempting to create a negative or unreal image of its sects has become par for the course as far as the entertainment industry is concerned.
Hindupost had earlier reported how Eros Now had made perverted posts during the Navratri festival which is auspicious to Hindus. Tanishq had also attempted to promote a one-sided false narrative of love through its Ekatvam ads and passed off a shoddy apology where it tried to present the Hindus as aggressors and vandals.
The Hindu tolerance for long has been construed as weakness and consent to pass off anything as creativity. Advertisers and social media handlers must realize that one can be creative without being disrespectful.
(Featured Image Source: HBO India Twitter Page)
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