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Petronas’ Deepavali Ad Angers Malaysian Indians

Categories: East Asia, Malaysia, Arts & Culture, Ethnicity & Race

In conjunction with the Hindu festival of lights, Deepavali, Malaysian oil company Petronas aired a controversial advertisement on YouTube that enraged many Malaysian Indians as it allegedly portrayed Indians in a bad light.

Petronas originally refused to remove the ad, ‘Do the Dappan,’ but following intense bombardment the ad has been removed from its official YouTube channel, however others have posted it online. The clip [1] can be seen below:

According to Aisha [2]:

‘The Dappan is a dance or a form of song and dance performed during funerals in India to cover up the sounds of mourning and also as a way to inform the community of a death… the Dappan also has little to no relation to how Malaysian Indians celebrate Deepavali!’

Hemashree Krishnan, was one of those who felt offended [3] by the ad:

The ad proclaims that the Dappankuthu is an energetic dance prominent in Tamil cinema. Pray tell, do any of our local movies have dappankuthu dance slots included? Our youngsters don't even dance this kind of dance in dancing competitions like Aatam 100 Vagai. Since when did dappankuthu became Malaysian Indians’ culture? This genre of dappankuthu dance is exclusively confined in Tamil movies from India and if Petronas advertising team thought that dappan dance will hit the right chord with Malaysian Indians and Malaysians at large, well, sorry to burst your bubble but you are sorely mistaken. WE ABHOR IT!! Well, most of us..

What is the message that this ad is trying to convey and what is the nexus of it with Diwali? Diwali marks, good triumphing over evil, light, overcoming darkness but what this ad is depicting is that Indians are still stuck in the Dark Ages. A great insult to our culture and history.

To amend their major blunder, Petronas should withdraw the advert forthwith and stick to producing value-based adverts that Petronas traditionally do.

Petronas has been famous for its heart-warming advertisements during important national celebrations.

Xu Vin, however, was unaware [4] of the cultural significance of the dance.

Forgive me for my ignorance. I initially watched it and thought it was great! the dancing, catchy music, colours and people. loved it and thought it was a twist to previous Petronas adverts that usually tweak our emotions if not bring tears to our eyes. I even shared it on my wall. Upon further insight, I found out it actually angered a lot of ppl, esp Hindus who felt it was a misrepresentation of the true meaning of Deepavali.