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As Louis Vuitton drags-feet removing cowhide yoga mat, various religions back Hindu call

In a remarkable interfaith gesture; Christian, Jewish and Buddhist leaders have come out in support of Hindus who have been urging luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton to immediately withdraw its yoga mat made from cowhide leather, calling it “highly inappropriate”.

Companies like Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) should be better educated and equipped in religious and cultural sensitivities to understand the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns; well-respected Lutheran pastor Chad R. Adamik, eminent Jewish rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer and esteemed Buddhist priest Matthew T. Fisher stated in Nevada (USA) today.

 Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed had emphasized few days back that this Louis Vuitton yoga mat seemed ridiculing and offending two serious concepts of Hinduism—cow and yoga—and was hugely insensitive to Hindu feelings. Besides its withdrawal, he had also urged formal apology from LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke and Louis Vuitton Executive Vice President Delphine Arnault.

Adamik, Beyer, Fisher and Zed pointed out that they were all for the freedom of artistic creativity, entrepreneurship, expression and speech; but faith was something sacred, and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers.

Companies like LVMH, whose Vision included “ethical responsibility”, should not take practices/concepts/traditions of any faith, larger or smaller, frivolously; Adamik, Beyer and Fisher indicated; supporting the Hindu requests of cowhide yoga mat removal and official company apology.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, had previously stated: Scenario of yoga (profound, sacred and ancient discipline; introduced and nourished by Hinduism) being performed on a mat made from a killed cow (the seat of many deities, which was sacred and had long been venerated in Hinduism) was painful to Hindu sentiments.

Yoga, which found reference in world’s oldest extant scripture Rig-Veda and other early Hindu texts, was considered union with God, one of the six systems of Hindu philosophy, and mean for transforming consciousness and purification of the Self and attaining liberation. It involved withdrawal and its objective was the state of blissful liberation, Zed pointed out.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents

Description of this beige mat (priced at $2,390 and made with cowhide leather) at the company website claimed: “Meditative stretching takes on a sleek bent with the Louis Vuitton yoga mat”.

Louis Vuitton, is one of the 75 “houses” of LVMH headquartered in Paris, “a family-run group” which claims “world leader in high-quality products” whose reported sales in 2019 were €53.7 billion. LVMH, whose history goes back to 1593, also claims to be the only group present in all five major sectors of the luxury market:  Wines & Spirits, Fashion & Leather Goods, Perfumes & Cosmetics, Watches & Jewelry and Selective Retailing.

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