Upset Hindus are seeking apology from singer-actress-businesswoman Rihanna for wearing Lord Ganesha pendant (on a long necklace) covering her belly-button and posted on her official Twitter handle on February 15, calling it highly inappropriate.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used as a fashion statement to push a sexy lingerie line or become a tool for sexy fashion. Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, emphasized that celebrities and companies should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Lord Ganesha to be displayed in such a manner for mercantile greed.
Besides apologizing to the worldwide Hindu community, Rajan Zed also urged Rihanna to immediately remove the objectionable picture from her Twitter account.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 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 noted.
Many devotees did wear a Lord Ganesha pendant on short necklace on a regular basis to express their reverence/devotion in Lord Ganesha; but wearing it as a fashion accessory in a one-time photo-shoot in this disrespectful manner for commercial agenda was quite out of line; Rajan Zed indicated.
Zed suggested Rihanna to undergo training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that she had a better understanding of the feelings of communities and customers.
Rajan Zed further said 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.
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. February 15 happened to be Ganesha Jayanti (Ganesha’s birthday).