“World’s largest retailer” Walmart abruptly stopped the sale of “Ganesh Plush Doll” from Walmart.com within less than 24 hours after Hindus protested, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
“Ganesh Plush Doll”, earlier selling for $18.94 at Walmart.com, now shows up as “This item is no longer available”, when a customer tries to purchase it online.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest asking for withdrawal of this objectionable product, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Walmart for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought that marketing Lord Ganesh as a plush doll was trivializing and insensitive.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, however, pointed out that they were still waiting for a formal apology from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Walmart Board Chairman Gregory B. Penner to the Hindu community.
Rajan Zed suggested that Walmart 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 be thrown loosely around on the floor, bathrooms, cars, etc.; or hit by feet; or squeezed; or used as a pillow or play ball. 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 pointed out that in Hinduism, Lord Ganesh had been worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and was invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking; but now Walmart said in product description that “now he's also the god of cuddliness” because of their Ganesh Plush Doll (which Walmart listed as “Religious Novelty” and “Funny Gift”).
Moreover, it was saddening for the devotees to see Lord Ganesh reduced as a toy in the form of a plush doll under the mercy of the owner, while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities; Rajan Zed had indicated.
Walmart, headquartered in Bentonville (Arkansas, USA), whose tagline is “Save money. Live better.”, claims to be a “worldwide household name” with about 11, 700 stores and whose fiscal year 2017 revenue was about $486 billion. Walmart.com claims to have over 1,000,000 products available online.