Melbourne (Australia) headquartered online retail giant Kogan.com has apologized and removed all six versions of beach-towel, sold at its subsidiary Matt Blatt, carrying image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh; after Hindus protested calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Daniel Beahan, Director of Logistics & Customer Care of Kogan.com, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed who spearheaded the protest, wrote: We sincerely apologise for any offense the listing of this product by one of our third party sellers may have caused, and this was removed as soon it was brought to our attention.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Kogan.com for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought that placing images of Lord Ganesh on a beach towel was insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that companies like Kogan.com 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 Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for wiping various parts of your body, lie/sit/stand/walk on it, drying pet-animals, placing your shoes/stuff on it; for mercantile greed. Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Kogan.com, whose “fundamental principles” included “ethical behaviour” and “respect”; should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deity Lord Ganesh to be displayed on a beach-towel, Rajan Zed had emphasized.
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; Zed had noted.
Rajan 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.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. Hinduism is one of the fastest growing religions in Australia, and according to 2016 census, formed 1.9% of the country’s population numbering at 440,300.
Before removal, the objectionable microfiber Ganesh beach-towels ranged from $49.95 to $79.95. Customers were told to “enjoy the sunny day at the beach or have a blast picnicking in the park” with the towel, which “can be used to lie on the warm beach sand or fresh-cut grass”.
Kogan.com, born in 2006 in a suburban Melbourne garage, claims to be “a pioneer of Australian eCommerce with a growing portfolio of retail and service businesses” and “largest Australian pure-play online retail website” with a customer base of millions of shoppers.