Seattle headquartered luxury department stores chain Nordstrom withdrew erect penis shaped vase named after Hindu deity Shiva within less than five hours of Hindu protest, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Erik Nordstrom, Co-President of Nordstrom, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed who spearheaded the protest, wrote on November 25 evening: Thank you for writing and bringing this matter to my attention. We certainly do not want to carry merchandise that offends anyone, especially for religious reasons. Please know that the vase has been removed from our website. I hope you will accept my apologies for any disappointment we have caused you or others.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Nordstrom for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought associating Lord Shiva with such a product was highly insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that Nordstrom 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.
Zed had said that Lord Shiva and Shivalinga were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not used as a vase for holding cut flowers, which might end up as a decoration in toilet/bathroom/etc. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols 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, Rajan Zed had noted.
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.
This objectionable Shiva Ceramic Vase, described on Nordstrom website as— “this curvy, iconic vase in blush-pink ceramic makes a marvelous showcase for a spray of blooms.”, was priced at $600.
Lord Shiva, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, forms the great triad of Hindu deities. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Publicly traded Nordstrom, Inc.; with 380 stores in 40 states, Canada and Puerto Rico; and serving 96 countries online through Nordstrom.com; claims to be “a leading fashion retailer offering compelling clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children”. Founded in 1901, it states: “Fashion changes. Shopping changes. Our commitment to happy customers doesn’t.”