The outrage that was not over the Swachchh Bharat ad featuring Goddess Lakshmi

The ad for the Swachh Bharat campaign which features Kangana Ranaut and other stars, and has a voice-over by Amitabh Bachchan, has become instantly popular on social media. And rightly so. For it combines creativity at its best with a much-needed message—DO NOT LITTER.

But what if the ad didn’t have the this effect on the viewers? What if instead of respecting the message and creativity, Hindus (who worship Lakshmi) felt outraged that the makers of the ad dared to show their goddess riding pillion on a scooter?

Below are five things from the ad which Hindus could have claimed as offensive in a universe in which they were actually intolerant:

1. Kangana Ranaut as Lakshmi: There is no directive, ban or shloka against human beings acting as god, but why should we let an opportunity to outrage pass? Besides, new reasons to outrage can always be learnt, copied or created with time.

2. Lakshmi on scooter: In all of classical literature and art Lakshmi is referred to either as being driven in a chariot or riding atop an owl. How dare they show her going around on a scooter?

3. Lakshmi walking: Even if the ad-makers couldn’t create a lotus-seat for Lakshmi, they could have at least hired a couple of elephants and made them walk on either side of Kangana Ranaut. The main contention here of course is that the goddess NEVER WALKS. She either sits or travels on her mounts. But never walks.

4. Ad shows devotees of Lakshmi as people creating filth: The very fact that they worship Lakshmi should have put them beyond the scope of criticism. But, the ad clearly implies that those who worship Lakshmi litter their surroundings. This is unacceptable. LAKSHMI IS GREAT and those who worship her are the greatest people. In fact, those who don’t worship her are the ones who need to be rescued and taught lessons in cleanliness.

5. Ad shows that Lakshmi can be contained on a paper: If she can disappear from images, then does that mean that she actually was there?? Do the guys who made the ad really want to say that Lakshmi lives on smoky images in dingy houses and shops?

But that is not the case. . .

Sense of humour is not about cracking jokes on others, but about taking jokes on oneself; glad that the Hindus still have it.

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