New Delhi, January 15, 2021: Hindus are urging Encinitas (California) based apparel company Third Eye Threads for the immediate withdrawal of “Devil Ganesh” T-shirts carrying the image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh with tail and horns; calling these highly inappropriate.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Lord Ganesh was greatly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines. It was hugely painful for devotees to see him misrepresented and paraded around on T-shirts as devil.
There was simply no connection/commonality between Lord Ganesh (worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles, and invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking) and devil (variously described as evil spirit, personification/manifestation/essence of evil, wicked, malevolent, etc.); Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, emphasized.
Rajan Zed also urged Third Eye Threads and its CEO to offer a formal apology; besides withdrawing “Devil Ganesh” tanks and raglans from their website and resellers’ websites/stores.
Apparel companies should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities; and using inappropriately reimagined versions of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Lord Ganesh to be displayed as devil, Zed pointed out.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 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 noted.
Zed further said 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.
Description of “Devil Ganesh” tank (priced at $39) and raglan (priced at $40) included “Wear it proudly”.
There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Comment: Hindus need to be aware of such an inappropriate portrayal as common Americans, mostly Christians, remain clueless about Hinduism. In the recent past, Hindu houses and Temples have come under attack.
In 2019, a 13-year old Hindu girl was Dhriti Narayan was also at the receiving end of bigotry when an American Army Veteran named Isaiah Peoples crashed into her and others.
Shantain Vargas, a witness to the Peoples crime’ took out her cellphone to capture video of the crash scene and said that she ‘couldn’t quite believe her eyes — Peoples seemed to be shouting like you would in church.’
Peoples, rocking back and forth was saying, ‘thank you, Jesus … thank you, Jesus.’
The video also showed Peoples sitting on the ground surrounded by officers and saying “Yes, you are, Jesus. Yes, you are!”
According to reports in 2015; 40 Hindu religious flags were burned outside a home in Queens (a New York City borough) on Thanksgiving Day; a Hindu temple was vandalized in Kitchener (Ontario) in November; sign of planned “Winston Salem Hindu Temple” in Clemmons (North Carolina) was hit with over 60 shotgun blasts in July; a Hindu temple was vandalized in Dallas (Texas) in April; two Hindu temples in Kent and Bothell (both in Seattle metropolitan area of Washington) were vandalized in February; a Hindu grandfather was roughed-up by police in Madison (Alabama) in February, resulting in partial paralysis. In 2014, there was anti-Hindu vandalism in Loudoun County (Virginia).