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You’d think Sabyasachi’s mangalsutra ad would be a hit with Hindu culture guardians. Nope



Snippets from Sabyasachi's mangalsutra ad | Instagram
Snippets from Sabyasachi’s mangalsutra ad | Instagram

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You’d think that a modern take on a tradition that risks dying out would be a sure-shot sell in India, but fashion designer Sabyasachi’s latest series of advertisement made a fatal mistake — portraying an average mangalsutra wearing woman as someone who willingly and unabashedly embraces her sexual desires.

Mangalsutra — which translates to an auspicious thread — is a customary necklace worn by many Hindu women after marriage. While any item that ‘marks’ a woman’s marital status is oppressive and patriarchal, let’s for the sake of this article say that a mangalsutra has been a proud symbol for many women of their commitment to their husbands. Thus, the mangalsutra, by extension, becomes a symbol of a woman enjoying a socially approved, marriage-sanctioned active sex life. We are talking about consensual ones.

Sabyasachi, the brand, has become increasingly associated with weddings in India since the rich and famous all choose the Kolkata designer’s clothes for any marriage ceremony. So, obviously, he went for the mangalsutra next. But while premarital sex remains a taboo in India, many couldn’t digest Sabyasachi’s new ad showing a presumably married woman, given her mangalsutra and bindi, being intimate.

The ad campaign, which includes depictions of LGBTQ couples, led to outrage on social media from the usual Right-wing self-appointed guardians of the Hindu culture. They called it ‘obscene’ and asked for the ad to be taken down. This comes on the heels of Dabur taking down its Karva Chauth ad showing a lesbian couple after BJP anger.

Also read: Sabyasachi x H&M shows everyone has a hot take, even at cost of pulling down Indian talent

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Who is a married woman?

Majority of those outraging seem to have a problem with one particular model — Varshita Thatavarthi, the dusky, plus-sized model and Sabyasachi’s latest muse.

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Thatavarthi is flaunting the reimagined mangalsutra while wearing lingerie. Her head resting on the chest of a male model, she gazes right into the camera.

And that is a perfect mix of what scares the Right-wing extremists today, isn’t it? An Indian woman confident with her body, not shying behind dupattas and pallus, embracing her sexuality — turning a symbol of patriarchy into a symbol of sexual empowerment and being unapologetic about it. Many orthodox parents say, beta do what you like after marriage. The outrage against this ad shows clearly you can’t.

In 2015, a group of women in Tamil Nadu protested by taking off their mangalsutras, calling it a symbol of a woman’s slavery and the man’s control over his wife’s body.

Indeed, why are these symbols of lifelong bond with one’s spouse all for women? There is sindurchuras, shakha pola — and the mangalsutra — for women. Where is the man’s marker of his undying love for his spouse? And what of the LGBTQ community who are still ineligible to get married to their partners under the rigorous Indian laws?

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Enter Sabyasachi — lending a luxury status to the humble mangalsutra, giving it a revamp that is inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations when more and more women are shunning it. I may not agree with the institution of marriage, or Sabyasachi’s philosophy of appropriating Indian traditions, but I am surprised that Hindus do not see this as an attempt to keep their traditions alive in the modern world.

It’s not that the Hindu Right-wingers do not like their ancient traditions wrapped in modernity. Ayurveda is a classic example of how ancient ‘remedies’ packed into modern plastic bottles make a booming industry.

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Also read: You can be LGBTQ and patriarchal. Dabur Fem’s Karva Chauth ad shows that

Sabyasachi crosses ‘Lakshman rekha’

So, precisely, what makes the Sabyasachi ad vulgar?

It’s the proverbial ‘lakshman rekha’ that separates duty and subservience in marriage from pleasure in the bedroom.

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The ideal Bharatiya nari has sex only after marriage to procreate. She is apologetic about her breasts and skin and does her best to hide them under layers of fabric. She tries to be thin and fair-skinned. She thinks more about household chores than her desires. Sexual relations with her husband is her duty, to such an extent, that even the courts refuse to intervene if she is raped by her husband.

So, how dare a designer suggest that a married Hindu woman may have sex with her husband for pleasure. How dare she look so much like the Indian girl-next-door, and have the impunity to look us in the eye? How dare she not cover up?

I’ll go so far as to concede that bras are in fact a Western concept. In Khajuraho, the goddesses flaunt necklaces on bare chests. Hindu women in fact did not cover their chests until a few hundred years ago. While salwar kameez has Mughal influence, the concept of Sari blouses had a British hand.

Hindu culture has continuously adapted to modern sensibilities and changed with Western influences. If you want to save your precious traditions from becoming irrelevant and obsolete, it would be prudent to bend to the winds of change.

Views are personal.

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(Edited by Neera Majumdar)

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August





Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …





Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android





Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly


We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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