Alibaba removes Hindu gods yogamats within 24-hrs of protest

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has removed the yoga mats carrying images of various Hindu deities from its Alibaba.com website within 24 hours after Hindus protested.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest asking for immediate withdrawal of objectionable yoga mats, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Alibaba Group for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought images of Hindu deities—Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu—on yoga mats were highly inappropriate.

These objectionable yoga mats, which were available for purchasing on Alibaba.com website on the early morning of November 21, were not seen on the website when searched on late November 21 evening.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, however, stated that a formal apology from Alibaba Group to the upset Hindu community was still due.

Rajan Zed suggested Alibaba Group and other corporations to 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 earlier said that Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to sit on or put feet/buttocks/legs on or sweat on, as was the case of yoga mats being sold with their images. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one 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 had noted.

Zed had also pointed out 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.

Hangzhou (China) headquartered Alibaba Group, established in 1999, generated USD 17.8 billion of GMV in November 11 Global Shopping Festival. Its “mission” is “to make it easy to do business anywhere” and its “vision” includes “a company that lasts at least 102 years”. Jack Yun MA, a former English teacher from Hangzhou, is the Executive Chairman. It also has offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan, USA, United Kingdom, Italy and India.

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