Global yoga gear company Manduka, headquartered in El Segundo (California), has announced not to produce yoga towels carrying reimagined images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesh, which Hindus objected calling these “highly inappropriate”.
Taylor of Manduka Customer Care, in an email today to Universal Society of Hinduism (USOH), which spearheaded the protest, wrote: “Out of respect for our global community, we will no longer produce new versions of the products in question.”
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is President of USOH, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Manduka for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought image of Lord Ganesh on such a product was highly insensitive.
Zed, however, pointed out that a formal apology from Manduka CEO to the upset Hindu community was still due, as it had sold Ganesh yoga towel in the past also. He also urged Manduka to withdraw its yoga towels depicting reimagined images of Lord Ganesh selling on its website or other online retailers or shops.
Rajan Zed suggested that Manduka 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 Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to sit/stand on or put feet/buttocks/legs/body on or to absorb/wipe one’s sweat. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurts 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.
Taylor wrote to USOH: Thank you for bringing your organization’s concern to our attention. We consider our community in all that we do and work diligently to ensure we never compromise our products, community or each other… Our reputation, as the world’s most respected yoga brand, was built by operating at the highest level of integrity.
These objectionable “yogitoes yoga towel – enlightened” and “yogitoes yoga towel – opportunity” were priced at $51 and $43.50 respectively and help “prevent slipping”. These are to be placed “on top of your yoga mat or directly on the floor”. Though “enlightened towel” shows up as “out of stock” on Manduka’s main website, it is still available from Manduka Singapore, etc., sites.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh 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.
Manduka, whose tagline is “Made for you, made for yoga.” and whose history goes to 1997, claims to make “the world’s finest athletic performance products, including yoga mats, towels, bags, props and men’s & women’s fitness apparel”. It runs “project:OM”, whose tagline is “Creating a Better World”. Manduka claims that its quality is “still unmatched in the marketplace”.