Charleston (South Carolina) based yoga mats and accessories company Yoloha Yoga has apologized and taken down yoga mat carrying image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha within few hours of Hindu protest, which called it “highly inappropriate”.
Yoloha Guru Chris Willey, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: We sincerely apologize for any offense the Ganesha yoga mat may have caused to Hindus. We have immediately taken the Ganesha yoga mat off our website. If we knew the image of the Ganesha on a yoga mat was offensive we would have never created the mat for our website.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Yoloha Yoga for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought image of Lord Ganesha on such a product was highly insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that Yoloha Yoga 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 sit on or put feet/buttocks/legs on or sweat on. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols 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 deity 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. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Design of objectionable “Ganesha Native Cork Yoga Mat”, priced from $169, was described on website as: “The image of Ganesh helps us to remember what he stands for: Learning, Persevering, and succeeding in the face of challenge”.
Yoloha Yoga, founded 2013, claims to be “creators of the world’s first cork yoga mat” and "eco-friendly, high-quality yoga products”. Describing its Cork yoga mats, it stated: “Unmatched performance and grip, even when wet”.