A prominent US-based Hindu organisation is pressing retail giant Walmart to withdraw the controversial Lord Ganesha-themed toe ring and apologise.
Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said the 'Ganesh toe ring', being sold on Walmart.com, is highly inappropriate and hurts the sentiments of Hindus across the world.
Lord Ganesha is highly revered in Hinduism and is worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to adorn one's toe, Zed said in a statement.
Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda is not okay as it hurts the devotees, he added in a statement released in Nevada.
He asked Walmart CEO Doug McMillon to offer a formal apology as well. He reminded the corporation that this is not the first time Walmart has offered products deemed offensive by Hindus.
The "Ganesh Toe Ring", described as .925 Sterling Silver, was selling at Walmart.com for $8.99. "Shri Ganesha Belly Button Ring" is being sold at $14.99 and was available in Gold and Silver colours.
Earlier last year, the Hindu organisation had taken retailer Amazon to task for selling leggings carrying images of Hindu deity Lord Hanuman. "Hanuman the Great" Women's Leggings were sold at Amazon.com for $48.00 - $58.00 were described as the "ultimate fashion statement to express your style."
Also last year, Amazon was forced to withdraw lord Ganesha-themed ladies underwear. The "Women's Ganesh Ganesa Ganapati 4 White Hipsters" had been advertised as "Sexy Fashion Hipsters."
In September 2017, India lodged a diplomatic protest with Australia after an advertisement depicting Lord Ganesha eating a lamb was aired in the country. The television advertisement, made by a meat industry lobby group, showed religious figures like Jesus, Buddha, Ganesha, Moses, Zeus and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard talking and eating at a table. The ad also makes a reference to Prophet Muhammed saying that he "cannot make it" to the feast.
In 2016, Fortune Magazine apologised after its cover page depicted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as Lord Vishnu. "The cover of Fortune's January 2016 international edition featured an illustration of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as a Hindu deity ... Neither the artist nor the editors of Fortune had any intention of parodying a particular deity or of offending members of the Hindu faith. It is clear that we erred and for that, we apologize," Fortune said in a statement.
Deities on liquor bottles
In 2014, Rajan Zed and his organisation had also launched a complaint against Urban Outfitters after it put on sale 'Lord Ganesha socks' and as well as a duvet cover featuring the elephant-headed Hindu deity. Urban Outfitters had also sold in the past other Ganesha-themed items such as tank tops, pillows and wall tapestry.
Zed had also recently raised objections against the Springfield Brewing Company for using Lord Ganesha's image on its Bombay Brown IPA beer. Italian brewer Birrificio Pontino had also waded into controversy after it labelled its product 'Sons of Shiva'.
"It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deity Lord Ganesha to be portrayed on a beer label sporting a wine/beer glass in one hand," Zed had said.