Urban Outfitters (UO), a publicly traded retail company headquartered in Philadelphia (USA) which offers a variety of lifestyle merchandise, seems to have upset Hindus for the third time by offering an inappropriate product.
It is selling online a Hindu goddess Jewelry Stand, which it calls “Perfect for holding all of your rings + things.”
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded earlier two protests against UO products (which were later withdrawn) trivializing Hindu deity, in a statement in Nevada today, stressed that Hindu goddess was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for holding your “things”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that UO seemed to have not learnt from its past misadventures of hurting the feelings of devotees with its inappropriate products. He urged UO and its CEO Richard A. Hayne to immediately issue a formal apology to the Hindu community and withdraw goddess Jewelry Stand.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Hindu goddess Jewelry Stand was very inappropriate and trivializing of highly revered Hindu deity. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Zed suggested UO and other corporations worldwide 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 creating new products or launching advertising campaigns.
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 stated.
Zed further said that such trivialization of Hindu goddess 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 noted.
Urban Outfitters apologized to Hindus and removed Lord Ganesh socks from stores and web after protest spearheaded by Zed in December 2013, calling it inappropriate. It removed Lord Ganesha Duvet Cover from its website after another protest spearheaded by Zed in July 2014.
This imported ceramic white colored online exclusive Lotus Jewelry Stand priced at $69 is described as: “Enlightened white ceramic storage solution shaped like Durga in a blooming lotus flower.” Actually it appears like multi-armed goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus.
UO, Inc. offers merchandise in Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and BHLDN brands through stores in USA, Canada, and Europe; besides garden center, catalogs, websites and wholesale. It boasts of its “established ability to understand our customers and connect with them on an emotional level”, calls its brands “both compelling and distinct” and terms itself as “innovative” company. Richard A. Hayne and Tedford Marlow are President of UO, Inc., and Chief Executive Officer of UO Group respectively.
Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and beauty and is also known as ‘world-mother’. There are about three million Hindus in USA.