Durham (North Carolina) headquartered “world’s largest custom fabric, wallpaper and home decor digital marketplace” Spoonflower CEO apologized and promised to remove napkins carrying images of various Hindu deities within a day of Hindu protest; who had described these as “highly inappropriate”.
Spoonflower CEO Michael Jones, in a statement posted on company website and sent to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote:…we are newly informed that the display of Hindu deity imagery on some of our dining products is unsuitable within Hindu religion tenets…We apologize to the Hindu community for the inadvertent misuse of this imagery… Among the actions we will take is in removing Hindu deity designs from Spoonflower.com home decor, and its home decor marketplaces…we always want to appropriately respond when we are fortunate enough to learn that we sometimes don’t know what we don’t know. We humbly acknowledge that fact.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Spoonflower and Jones for quick action and understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought that placing images of Hindu gods and goddesses on napkins was insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that companies like Spoonflower 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 Hindu deities (Shiva, Krishna, Lakshmi, Ganesh, Murugan, Kali, Hanuman, etc.) were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for wiping mouth/fingers, catching crumbs/gravy (which may be beef), blowing nose, containing coughs/sneezes, throwing on dirty plate, covering lap, etc.; 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.
“Global marketplace” like Spoonflower should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu gods and goddesses like Shiva, Krishna, Lakshmi, Ganesh, Murugan, Kali, Hanuman, etc., to be displayed on napkins; 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.
Spoonflower, reportedly established in 2008 and with offices in Durham and Berlin (Germany), claims to be “a global marketplace connecting makers and consumers with artists worldwide”.