Pharr (Texas) based athletic clothing company “Miami Fitwear” apologized and removed leggings carrying images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha from its website after Hindus objected, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Raquel Ponce, founder of Miami Fitwear, in emails on July five to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: “…We have removed the leggings from our website…I am truly sorry if I offended anyone with printing those leggings. That was not my intention at all… and again I apologize. The last thing I wanted is to offend anyone.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Miami Fitwear and Ponce for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which found images of Hindu deity 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 Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to adorn one’s legs. 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 Miami Fitwear; which describes itself as “an athleisure and lifestyle company”; include leggings, capris, pants. Its Mission includes “making you feel good” and it and claims to “handcraft every legging”. The now removed “True Wisdom” Ganesha leggings were priced at $98 and its description included: “We hope our hand-drawn Ganesha leggings help you remember how beautifully strong and wise you are when you decided to use your energy in a positive way.”
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.