Within few hours of Hindu protest; Tweed Heads (NSW, Australia) based jewelry retailer The Belly Ring Shop (Tummy Toys) apologized and removed ten belly button rings carrying images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha; which Hindus had called “highly inappropriate”.
Helene Holtsbaum, owner of The Belly Ring Shop (Tummy Toys), in an email today to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: “I would like to confirm that all ten belly rings have now been removed from our website and the sale of these items has permanently ceased…I profoundly apologise for my actions to all Hindus around the world. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to correct this matter and for raising my awareness in this area.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Holtsbaum and The Belly Ring Shop (Tummy Toys) for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought image of Lord Ganesha on such a product was insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that The Belly Ring Shop (Tummy Toys) 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 adorn one’s belly button or used as a “navel toy” or become a tool for “sexy navel 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.
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 deities was disturbing to the Hindus. 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. According to 2016 Census, there were 440,300 Hindus in Australia. Hinduism, second fastest-growing religion in Australia, is its fourth largest.
Ten objectionable belly-button/navel/belly-piercing rings and belly-button/belly/navel bars on this retailer’s website were seemingly named on Ganesha and carried the image of Lord Ganesha and were priced between $5 to $14.90.
The Belly Ring Shop (Tummy Toys), which calls itself “Australia’s trusted” “The MEGA Belly Bar Shop”, was founded in 2008. It describes its jewelry as “essential sexy navel fashion”, states to have 6,000+ belly bars and its Mission includes “no belly button is left without sensational bling”.