Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Ignorance and American Eagle Outfitters

I would have thought that American media and American companies would have learned by now that it is not cool to put Hindu Deities on toilets, misconstrued on Album covers, and yes it is not cool to place them on shoes or sandals either. According to this story in the Deccan Herald, American Eagle Outiftters is selling sandals that place the Hindu Deity Ganesh (also known as the elephant god because of his elephant head and trunk*) on the insole of a sandal. From the article: "The frequency of such appearances keeps busy an organisation sponsored by the World Hindu Council of America (VHP-A). It is called American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD).

Every time it notices an offending product in the US market, it activates a petition and protest. It has demanded that American Eagle Outfitters immediately withdraws the flip-flops from the market and issues an unequivocal apology to the Hindu community.

It has several similar protests to its credit. It protested the offensive Aerosmith album cover for Nine Lives, inappropriate inclusion of Bhagwad Gita shloka in Eyes Wide Shut, treatment of Hindu deities in Xena: Warrior Princess, representation of Hindu deity on shoes by Fortune Dynamics, representation of Hindu deities on toilet seats by Sittin Pretty.
AHAD has tried to explain to Americans that in Hindu culture, shoes are considered to be "dirty" and it is an age old Hindu custom to remove shoes before entering temples and even homes.

“To put images of Gods and Goddesses, which are revered and worshipped by a billion strong Hindu community is not just a mark of ignorance but seemingly a deliberate attempt to denigrate Hindu dharma and Hindus around the world.”

AHAD speculates as to why these companies do not pick up symbols from other religions. “It is most likely due to the fear of the reaction of the Christian, Jewish and Moslem community that the American Eagle Outfitters has chosen to bring out the flip flop with a Hindu religious symbol — Lord Ganesh — while avoiding Christian, Moslem, or Jewish symbols.”

If this is offensive to you, click here for the AHAD petition.
*this link has more information on ganesh and why this is insulting to Hindus. If I have time tomorrow Iwill palce an image of the sandals on the blog, as well as the story behind why Ganesh has an elephant face instead of his own original face.


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