CHICAGO: Amazon.com, one of the biggest online retailers in the world, has bowed to the pressure and strong pleadings from members of the Indian community across USA to remove from its website doormats carrying images of Hindu deities. The company has agreed to do so within 24 hours after a protest.
Over 60 doormats which were available on June 4 depicting images of Hindu deities-Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Ganesha, Venkateswara, Saraswati, Murugan, Durga-Hanuman, Padmanabha; images of Hindu temples and worship place-Sun Temple Modhera, Akshardham Delhi, Bhuleshwar Temple, etc.; and Saint Ragavendra-which Hindu devotees found objectionable; were not seen on the Amazon.com website when searched on June 5 morning.
Community activists led by Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and backed by Madhu Patel, founder president NRI Press Club, had made it known to the Amazon management about the views and feelings of the Indian community, principally Hindus, and feel elated that their voices are being heard by the concerned people at the company. However, Rajan Zed observed that an official apology from Amazon.com and its President Jeffrey P. Bezos to the upset Hindu community was still due as it was their third incident in the recent years trivializing Hindu deities.
After protests spearheaded by Zed, Amazon.com removed women’s leggings carrying images of various Hindu deities from its website in October 2014, while in January 2014 it removed the pants carrying image of Lord Ganesha.
Madhu Patel said that this type of frequent trivializing incidents for Hindu deities fall into a pattern and obviously there would be some elements at the company who intentionally pinprick Hindus. “We need to get united and seek exposing these anti Hindu elements at Amazon,” he said.
Zed had earlier said that it was shocking to visualize that Amazon.com, for its mercantile greed, apparently persuading the world to scrub/wipe the soles of their shoes before entering a building on the faces of gods which Hindus worshipped.
Deities depicted on the doormats sold at Amazon.com website were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines; and not for absorbing “water and dirt from shoes” or for sweeping on for cleaning or for drying wet feet and grabbing “dirt, dust and grime”.
Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees, Zed had noted.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one 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 indicated.
Zed had also pointed out that such trivialization of Hindu deities, temples and saint 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.
These doormats; some of which could be used as bath/floor mat or for “living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, hallway, etc”; and some “can be easily cleaned by sweeping”; were apparently sold from $14.49 to $25.74. Some of these clearly mentioned Lord Ganesh as God of Hindus on the website.
Amazon.com, Inc., a Fortune 500 company founded in 1994, and headquartered in Seattle (Washington, USA), claims to offer “Earth’s Biggest Selection” and “strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company”.
India Post News Service