Wisconsin headquartered leading omnichannel retailer, Kohl’s Department Stores, has apologized and removed the Throw Pillow carrying image of Hindu deity Ganesh within 17 hours of Hindu protest.
Jen Johnson, Vice President Corporate Communications of Kohl’s Department Stores, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Kohl’s has removed the product in question from our site. We sincerely apologize to you, the Hindu community and our customers for any unintended offense this product may have caused.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Menomonee Falls headquartered Kohl’s for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought of this product as highly inappropriate,
Rajan Zed had said that Lord Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for tossing/throwing/scattering around on sofas/couches, chairs, beds, floors, etc.; and sitting on it. 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 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.
Zed suggests that Kohl’s and other companies should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they have an understanding of the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns.
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. “Ganesh Throw Pillow” at Kohls.com was earlier selling at $40.99-$59.99.
Kohl’s, whose history goes back to 1962, claims to operate over 1,100 stores across 49 states along with the powerful e-commerce platform Kohls.com; and generate annual sales of approximately $19 billion. Its mission is to “inspire and empower families to lead fulfilled lives” and its values include “We put customers first”. Kevin Mansell is the CEO.