They say you can take an Indian out of India but not his Indian-ness. And, his preoccupation with ‘fasts’. While Muslims fast during Ramzan, Christians during Lent, Jains during the Jain festival, the Hindu majority in the country have a variety of fasts based on days of the week, holy days of the year and many Hindu festivals.
One such fasting day is today, October 19, fourth day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Kartik. Celebrated as a one-day Karva Chauth festival, the special thing about today’s fast is that it is only observed by married women – they will not eat from dawn to dusk, to ensure the safety and longevity of their husbands. The first morsel is fed by their husbands at moonrise. Single girls also observe a fast today for their desired life partner!
Karva Chauth, although not observed in many states in India, has been popularised nationally by mainstream Bollywood films. Over the years, it has gained a notorious reputation too – that of being a regressive, sexist festival promoting the idea that women are dependent on men.
But, India is a strange dichotomy. Age old traditions and beliefs are mingling along with urban ways of living and observing festivals and their rituals. Married women in metro cities may not have the indulgence of a holiday and a day of decorating their palms with mehendi, and getting dressed in full bridal attire, however, they do observe a fast at work. And these divided beliefs often pose challenges for brands in India.
Shaadi.com, the online matrimonial site, has taken the middle path. The brand has launched its 2016 Karva Chauth campaign that’s calling upon husbands to fast for their wives too!
At the center of the campaign is a 2.25 minute film starring a husband and a wife on Karva Chauth day. The wife is highly miffed with him for coming home late as she’s been hungry throughout the day and waiting for him to come home and do the formalities. The husband is unable to express anything nor does he make any excuses. The wife eventually finds out that he too had skipped his breakfast and lunch. They hug and break their fast together, while the husband shares his experience of having nearly fainted in the office!
A dedicated website has been created for the campaign which is basically keeping a track of the conversations and the number of fasting pledges taken by men. Presently, the counter shows more than 5.57 million pledges taken, that’s a lot of men going on a fast today!
A week prior to the festival, the brand had been sending out teasers on its social media pages. It promised to share a new way of saying ‘I love you’ for those men who have trouble in expressing themselves using the three-word phrase of love. Creatives in the form of adorable gifs began spreading the word.
Men were also shown the benefits of going on a fast for her versus taking her out for a candle lit dinner or buying her gifts. This was followed by fun illustrations and puns about food and love, announcing the #FastForHer contest. Couples have been invited to share their selfie/video for a chance to win a bunch of prizes. For couples sending in their entries, Shaadi is responding with funny gifs on Twitter.
‘Fast for her’ becomes the new ‘I love you’
It is impressive to see Shaadi.com own this space blending the best of both tradition and urban beliefs of gender equality in one Karva Chauth campaign. It’s like an answer to the critics calling for a ban on this ‘sexist’, regressive’ and ‘anti-women’ festival. Getting the men involved equally in the festival fast solves the gender bias once and for all.
Last year, Shaadi had launched version 1 of #FastForHer as a social initiative that leveraged the power of social media connections. Celebrity husbands took the pledge to fast for their wives while tagging their friends on social media to do the same and carry on the chain. Anupam Mittal, the founder and CEO of People Group which owns Shaadi.com, started the chain by tagging writer and brand ambassador for Shaadi, Chetan Bhagat, who took the pledge and then tagged other popular celebrities and influential men. Read: “Why Are These Celebrity Husbands Pledging To Go On A #FastForHer This Karwa Chauth“.
The campaign has been equally good this year specially with the incentives for couples sharing their video or selfies. Content seeding in fun, witty, adorable gifs has made for a visually appealing execution, especially the puns around food. Shaadi.com’s #FastForHer has helped create a niche for the matrimonial site in the clutter of new age dating and matrimonial brands. It is just one more addition to the brand’s journey as a new age, forward thinking, socially responsible brand, along with its sarcastic anti-dowry campaign #NotForSale launched this year.