When we speak of womanhood, what comes to mind is a single state of being; as if it were an undifferentiated gender. However, through years, the society has created labels and tags that exists within this gender. The married and the unmarried, the happily married and the divorced, the straight and the lesbian, the proverbial ‘complete woman’ and the transgender. It seems the woman’s existence has always been defined with an asterisk mark (conditions). #NoConditionsApply is TOI’s campaign to raise awareness to issues concerning Gender Equity across all opportunities, celebrations, ambitions. There has been a lot of talk on why the world needs diversity. Diversity will come through inclusion. And, true diversity and inclusion needs to be reflected not only in opportunity; but also in celebration and festivities.
True celebration of happiness necessitates inclusion of one and all. Driving home the message that “Festivals should be inclusive celebration”, TOI has recently launched a short film on inclusive Shindoor Khela that TOI hosted under the campaign of #NoConditionsApply. Contextualizing to Durga Pujo, which is a mega celebration of homecoming of Shakti (Goddess Durga and a symbol of Feminine Divine) to her maternal home with her sons and daughters, #NoConditionsApply campaign calls for an all-inclusive community celebration. Celebrated as a community gathering on the last day of Durga Pujo (Dashami), Shindoor Khela is a tradition that has been celebrated by married women for hundreds of years. On Dashami (10th day of Durga Pujo), married women come together in praise of Goddess Durga and play with Shindoor (vermilion) by smearing it on each other’s face and body. Traditionally children and unmarried girls are a part of this social celebration, however the rest of our sisterhood looks on, uninvited. As a part of #NoConditionsApply campaign, TOI joined hands with Tridhara Sammilani – one of the prestigious Durga Pujo organizers in Kolkata – to host an all-inclusive Shindoor Khela.
All women played Shindoor Khela together – married, widow, transgender, lesbian, single mother, divorced. This film captures the journey to this inclusive celebration – that brings humanity closer and boundaries fade away. The on-ground celebration was recorded in a short documentary format, which was launched on Facebook and YouTube on Wednesday, 1stNovember with the support of Vidya Balan, Rituparna Sengupta and LGBT activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi. The short documentary sheds light on the way in which we can help our own people feel happy and together, it also features women who were a part of the celebrations, and showcases their joy to be included.
Excited to be a part of this campaign actor Vidya Balan said, “It is wonderful to see all the lovely women celebrating Sindoor Khela together. Celebrating their womanhood and that’s why I think the #NoConditionsApply campaign is so great, it is about including everyone, it is about breaking barriers. I think this short film is beautiful because we don’t realize that not only do we discriminate between men and women, but also within women there are so many levels of discrimination and this video broke that tradition of discrimination within the gender.”
Speaking about the success of the 2nd leg of the campaign, Sanjeev Bhargava, Director, Brand TOI, said, “It is wonderful to see the #NoConditionsApply campaign receive such a positive and welcoming response from men and women across the country, the campaign has touched over 5mn hearts so far. We are humbled by the love shown to the campaign by celebrities like Vidya Balan, Bipasha Basu, Tapasee Pannu among others. As a brand, we are glad to spark this conversation and help bring an end to gender discrimination and social exclusion.”
“This movement wasn’t for those who had opted out. It was for those who had been pushed out. It was about erasing a line not drawn by them, but by others. About two dots of red with no barrier in between. Me & my other sister. My transgender sister. My widowed sister. My sex worker sister. My outlier sister. It was about equality in symbology. Because after all, that is where it all begins and where it all flows back to. Every progressive, inclusive thought is only as powerful as the ritual it permeates. At least in a country like India – where ritual is everything” said Swati Bhattacharya, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Ulka.
The campaign has been created by FCB Ulka and has touched the hearts of millions of people across the globe including the Indian film fraternity where celebrities like Bipasha Basu, Tapasee Pannu, national award winner Srijit Mukherji, ace music composer Shekhar Ravjiani among many others have spoken of their support in social media.
Along with the love of celebrities, many people across the nation have shared their views and commended the efforts put in by TOI and the various people associated with the campaign. #NoConditionsApply hopes to bring a positive change in the way women are treated by society. Lending their support to the campaign actress Vidya Balan and LGBT activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi had a conversation about the campaign across TOI, Calcutta Times, Bombay Times and Delhi Times’ Facebook pages where they shed light on the issue and its simple solution, among other topics.
Watch the conversation of ace actor Vidya Balan with Laxmi N Tripathi (LGBTQ activist) discussing the campaign and the short film on TOI Facebook page.