Denver (Colorado) headquartered company Mika Yoga Wear has removed yoga mat carrying image of Hindu deity Ganesha and apologized after upset Hindus complained calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Mika Yoga Wear Founder & Creative Director Laura Costa, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: “We hear your concern & would like to apologize for this offense. We worked with a local artist on this design & believe neither of us knew this would be inappropriate, so thank you for letting us know. We have removed this product from our site & will not continue to make more of this design. Sending our sincerest apologies. May you believe we meant no intentional harm & hope you will accept that this was a mistake we are grateful to be learning from.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Mika Yoga Wear and Costa for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which found image of Lord Ganesha on a yoga mat highly disrespectful.
Rajan Zed suggested 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 said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to sit on or put feet/buttocks/legs on or sweat on. 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 indicated that such trivialization of Hindu deity 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.
Mika Yoga Wear; which sells tops, shorts, pants+legging, capris, swimwear, bodysuits, mats, leg warmers, jewelry, etc.; “aims to produce…flattering clothing for women all over the world.” It also reportedly runs a production center in Brazil and a factory in Peru. Its Ganesha mat, which was priced at $64, was “Designed to Grip Better with Sweat”.
There are about three million Hindus in USA.