Ventnor City (New Jersey) headquartered online retailer Zayze Activewear has removed all leggings carrying images of Hindu deities Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha and apologized, after upset Hindus complained calling these “highly inappropriate”.
Zayze Activewear CEO Shayna Gross, in an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: “It is with our sincerest apologies that we have removed our Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha leggings from our website and have halted all sale and production of these images in future lines…We at Zayze have a deep appreciation for diversity and consideration for differing beliefs and it was never our intention to offend anyone. Please accept our sincerest apologies.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Zayze Activewear and CEO Gross for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which found images of Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha on leggings were highly disrespectful.
Rajan Zed suggested corporations to 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 Shiva and Lord Ganesha were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to adorn your legs, crotch and hips. 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.
Products of Zayze, which claims to be “high end line of activewear”, include capris, jackets, leggings, shorts, sports bras, tops, tanks, mens tights, onesies, outfits and bike shorts. With tagline “Where Fit, Fashion, and Function Come Together”, Zayze states: “You can be sexy and active at the same time.” Its description of “Shiva Geometry Compression Legging” ($ 89) (now removed) said: “Shiva, the auspicious one, adorns the leg”.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. Lord Shiva, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, forms the great triad of Hindu deities. There are about three million Hindus in USA.