TOANO, VA–Toano, VA-based Enlighten Clothing Company (ECC) has apologized and removed “Ganesh Balance Mini Skirt” carrying images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh, after Hindus protested calling it “highly inappropriate.”
Justin Chamberlain and Melanie Bodnar, ECC founders, in an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: “We are very sorry and whole heartedly apologize for anyone we might have upset…Our goal is to create a clothing line that is environmentally responsible and to shine a light on the shared spiritual and artistic nature of humanity not to misuse them in ways that are offensive or hurtful to the native cultures from which they came.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement, thanked ECC and Chamberlain and Bodnar for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought that placing images of Lord Ganesh on a mini-skirt was insensitive.
Zed suggested that companies like ECC 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 to adorn one’s hips, groin, buttocks, genitals, waist, crotch, thighs, and pelvis for mercantile purposes. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
ECC 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 mini-skirt, Rajan Zed had emphasized.
Hinduism is 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; 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.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh 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.
Before removal, objectionable “Ganesh Balance Mini Skirt” at ECC was described as “meant to sit on hip”, and was priced at $34.99.
ECC, founded in 2012, claims to be “spiritually inspired independent clothing and design company” and “devoted to creating affordable organic clothing”. It sells clothing and accessories and states to “try and create” “socially responsible clothing”; with artists in US, Mexico, Sweden, Great Britain and Canada.