Boston headquartered online home giant Wayfair removed the cutting board carrying image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha and apologized within less than 24 hours after Hindus protested, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
“We sincerely apologize that this item appeared on our site. Thank you again for bringing this to our attention”, Susan Frechette, Wayfair’s Associate Director of Corporate Communications, wrote today in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest asking for withdrawal of this objectionable product.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Wayfair for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought that image of Lord Ganesha on a cutting board was trivializing and insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that Wayfair 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 Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to “chop, dice and slice” meat, vegetables, cheese, etc. 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, Rajan Zed had noted.
Zed had further said 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.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha 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. “Birchwood Golden Ganesha Elephant Cutting Board” was selling at Wayfair for $34.99.
Awards-winning Wayfair, founded in 2002, claims to be “one of the world’s largest online destinations for the home” with over eight million products, which included “one of the world’s largest online selections of furniture, home furnishings, décor and goods”. It claims to have generated $4.3 billion in net revenue for the 12 months ending September 30 last. Besides Massachusetts headquarters, it has corporate offices in Berlin and London with operations throughout North America and Europe.