Brooklyn (New York) headquartered e-commerce company Etsy, Inc. withdrew toilet seat carrying image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha from its website within less than two hours after upset Hindus protested, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
“Ganesha Toilet Seat”, earlier selling for $85 at Etsy.com, does not show up anymore. In its “Item details”, Lord Ganesha was described as “bathroom Ganesha” holding “a comb, mirror, toothbrush and toothpaste” and his vahana rat was replaced by a “rat tail comb”.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest asking for withdrawal of this objectionable product, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Etsy for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought image of Lord Ganesha on such a product was highly insensitive.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, however, pointed out that they were still waiting for a formal apology from Etsy and its CEO Josh Silverman to the upset Hindu community.
Rajan Zed suggested that Etsy and other companies should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had an understanding of the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns.
Zed had said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to adorn a toilet. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed had noted.
Zed had stated that such trivialization of Hindu deities was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Zed added.
Is offering products like this Etsy’s way to “create a better world” whose stated Mission is “to reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world” and whose “Mission & Values” include “create a better world”? Rajan Zed had asked.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Etsy; founded in 2005 in an apartment in Brooklyn and now headquartered in its Dumbo neighborhood with additional offices in France, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, San Francisco (California), Hudson (New York); describes itself as “a global creative commerce platform”. It claims to have had annual gross merchandise sales of $2.84B in 2016.