California firm apologizes, removes Ganesha yogamats after Hindus protest

California (USA) firm Yogamatic apologized and removed the yoga mats carrying images of Lord Ganesha from its website which upset Hindus considered “inappropriate” and had asked for their immediate recall.

William Cawley of Yogamatic, in an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, wrote: “Thank you for bringing this concern to our attention. The mats have been duly removed. There are millions of Ganesha products available on the internet and the contributor of this mat supplied the design in good faith. Please accept our apologies to the Hindu community.”

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Yogamatic for showing responsibility and maturity for taking quick action and for having an understanding for the hurt feelings of Hindu community. It was a step in the right direction, he added.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada on January 28, had said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be trampled under one’s feet while doing yoga. 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 lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed argued.

Rajan Zed further said that such trivialization of Lord Ganesha was disturbing and offensive 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.

Yoga mats Hindu devotees were finding objectionable included two carrying images of Lord Ganesha. labels itself as “the custom yoga mat company” asking customers to “Choose from 100’s of mats in our exclusive Galleries”. Entrepreneur magazine listed it under “100 Brilliant Companies” with comments: “A favorite of Oprah and Jennifer Aniston”. For $79 plus tax and shipping, one can order a Yoga Mat with her/his own image at Yogamatic, which claims to operate a fully functional design service from its studio/gallery in Santa Monica (California). Besides Yoga Mat, it also sells Travel Mat/Yoga Towel.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

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