After Hindu protest, Queensland yoga mat firm removes Lord Ganesha mat & says “sorry”

Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia) based yoga mat firm “Enlightened Koala” has removed yoga mat carrying image of Hindu deity Ganesha after Hindus protested, calling it “highly inappropriate”.

Rossana Ruschel, Owner of “Enlightened Koala”, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: …the design has been removed from the website and it will be discontinued. I’m sorry if I cause any harm, it certainly was not my intention.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked “Enlightened Koala” and Ruschel for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which felt that such a product was insensitive.

Rajan Zed suggested that companies 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 Ganesha was greatly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to lie/sit/stand/tread/walk on or put abdomen/ankles/buttocks/calves/feet/genitals/groin/heels/hips/knees/legs/thighs/toes/
umbilicus on or for absorbing/handling your sweat. 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.

Yoga mat companies should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deity Lord Ganesha to be such displayed on a yoga mat, 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 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 Ganesha 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.

Objectionable Ganesha Mat, which was claimed to have been “designed to help you clear your path”, was priced at $129.90 before the removal.

“Enlightened Koala Meaningful Yoga Mats”, whose tagline is “Discover Yourself”, sells mats and accessories. Its website states: Enlightened Koala Mats are not the regular pretty mats. They are designed for those who seek to better understand themselves… they bring purpose to your practice…They’re a powerful tool and reminder that you are a lot more than you think.

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