Multinational clothing corporation pulls out Lord Ganesh bedding after Hindu protest

19 07 2014

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RELIGION NEWS SERVICE — Urban Outfitters has pulled a new duvet cover featuring Lord Ganesh after an outcry from some Hindus.

The cover depicted the elephant-head Hindu deity who symbolizes wisdom. It was only available online and was sold for $129-$169. Now, the webpage is saying it is “sold out.”

In a statement issued on July 14, Urban Outfitters confirmed that the item was pulled.

“It was never the intention for this item nor any of the items we carry that feature illustrations of Lord Ganesha to offend our customers,” the company said in a statement. “We are supporters of Valentina Ramos’s unique and uplifting illustrations and this item, to us, was another example of her beautiful work. Though Lord Ganesha merchandise is popular within the market we understand the sensitivities certain items may carry.”

The clothing and furnishing chain will continue selling other Lord Ganesh items, including tapestries and wall art.

Rajan Zed, Hindu activist

Rajan Zed, Hindu activist

Rajan Zed, a Hindu activist from Nevada and president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, spearheaded the protest, saying the duvet cover was “highly inappropriate.” He said he was upset that it took the company almost two weeks to respond to the issue.

“You can put him in a frame and on the wall. That is fine,” Zed said in an earlier interview. “But not to be put on the bed, on which you lie and your feet will go on. That is very inappropriate.”

Zed also directed a protest in December 2013 to remove Lord Ganesh socks from stores. Urban Outfitters responded quickly that time, pulling the item and issuing an apology.

Urban Outfitters has used religious symbols on merchandise before, upsetting other religious groups. In 2012, the company sold a shirt that resembled the yellow Star of David patch that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany. In March the retailer was asked to remove a shirt that said “Jesus, I’m Drunk” with a picture of Jesus holding a beer.

Hoping to avoid this problem in the future, Zed wants senior executives from Urban Outfitters and other corporations to go to training in religious and cultural sensitivity.


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3 responses

20 07 2014
Dominik

As the clothing and furnishing chain will continue selling other items, including tapestries and wall art, it will be easy to use one as the cover on the bed or to sew together two parts of tapestries and make a duvet, for those devotees who would love to have it on their bed, where they likely meditate.
Considering the duvet is not used in public but in intimacy of one’s home, I personally do not see a problem neither difference in putting holly picture on wall or on the bed. We keep feet under the duvet or sheet and on the inner side where there is no painting. And no one can claim that there is offensive intention in a buyer of such duvet.
But of course these issues are often hyper-sensitive and touchy so it is wise to avoid upsetting and better call duvet a tapestry :)
I personally believe that said deity himself wouldn’t mind or bother :)

20 07 2014
Jura Nanuk

Dear Dominik,

Thank you for your comment. I understand that you don’t see the problem in putting a holly picture on the bed, but millions of Hindus around the world consider it offensive. I personally believe that nobody’s religious symbols should be used in commercial purposes, but should be treated with dignity and respect.

Best regards,

Jura Nanuk

20 07 2014
Saraswati

I understand this , at the same time, many people in India worship Durga and beat their wives to death , which is much worse. Durga is every women. Ganesh in an inner state of Bhraman realized when Shiva and Shakti within are unified. He is not on the bed cover or in the Shrine, these are just reminders. The Hindu Gods are inner cosmic realities of higher consciousness. How many Hindus realize this , they do horrible things to dogs, have slavery , they do not truly respect Ganesh . I think its more innocent to sleep on a cover with Ganesh without hurting the real Ganesh in all beings, which is Bhraman conciseness. Also if you are in India, it takes a lot of time to do anything. Why is he surprised that it took two weeks to answer his request. I also do not like how spiritual materialism is growing and people use spiritual images for money, but they do that everywhere.This it is all very relative, depending on intention, view and a situation. Did those hindu rapist in India who put a metal rod in the girls vagina worship ganesh in a proper manner, maybe. A real offence is made by our action towards each other. I think this is religious fanaticism, although I do understand the spiritual materialism and stupidity of using ganesh as a bed cover at the same time.Religious taboos are just taboos, people are offended because of their attachment to belief, but when their daughters are sold to sex slavery, the Hindu Religious government does nothing. When are they going to do something for the real Ganesh in all beings.!!!!

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