Brooklyn (New York) headquartered e-commerce company Etsy, Inc. withdrew flip-flops carrying image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh from its website within less than six hours after upset Hindus protested, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Ganesh Flip Flops, earlier selling for $25 at Etsy.com, does not show up anymore.
Item description of Ganesh Flip Flops stated: “Traditionally, Ganesh is thought to provide prosperity, fortune and success. He is the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles of both material & spiritual kinds… Stand out from the crowd in these cute flip flops!”
In July last, Etsy withdrew toilet seat carrying image of Lord Ganesha from its website within less than two hours after a protest spearheaded by distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed on this product, which Hindus thought was highly insensitive.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism and who also spearheaded flip-flops protest, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Etsy for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought image of Lord Ganesh on such a product was highly objectionable.
Rajan Zed, however, pointed out that they were still waiting for a formal apology from Etsy and its CEO Josh Silverman to the upset Hindu community.
Zed suggested that Etsy and other 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.
Rajan Zed had said that Etsy should have been enlightened by now 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 feet. Hindus considered it a sacrilege to trample his image under one’s feet. 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 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.
Rajan 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.
Is offering products like Ganesh Flip Flops really matches Etsy’s belief that “the power of business can create a better world”, its claim to “Keep Commerce Human” and its stated Mission “to reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world”? Zed had asked.
Etsy; founded in 2005 in an apartment in Brooklyn and now headquartered in its Dumbo neighborhood with additional offices in France, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, San Francisco (California), Hudson (New York); describes itself as “a global creative commerce platform”. It claims to have had annual gross merchandise sales of $3.25B in 2017.
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.