Brooklyn (New York) headquartered e-commerce company Etsy seems to have withdrawn “Kali Ma skirt”, carrying the image of Hindu deity Kali; after Hindus protested, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
When searched for “Kali Ma skirt” on the Etsy website today, it said: We couldn’t find any results for “Kali Ma skirt”.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked Etsy for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which felt that such a product was insensitive. But we were still waiting for an apology from Etsy and its CEO Josh Silverman on this issue, he added.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested that e-commerce 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.
Rajan Zed had said that goddess Kali was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to adorn one’s hips, groin, buttocks, genitals, waist, crotch, thighs, and pelvis for mercantile greed. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Online marketplaces should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of the immensely venerated Hindu deity Kali to be displayed on a skirt, Zed had emphasized.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 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 deities 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 were painful for the followers, Zed added.
In Hinduism, Goddess Kali, who personifies Sakti or divine energy, is considered the goddess of time and change. Some Bengali poets described her as supreme deity. There are about three million Hindus in the USA.
Now removed objectionable “Kali Ma skirt” at Etsy, priced at $47, was claimed to be printed and sewn by hand in Montreal (Canada) from a fabric made by a Montreal mill.
Etsy, founded 2005, which describes itself as a “global online marketplace”, is headquartered in Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn; with additional offices in Chicago, Ireland, United Kingdom, India, Mexico. With over 120 million items for sale, its mission includes “Keep Commerce Human”, and it claims to “foster a culture of ethics and accountability through: Thoughtful marketplace and corporate governance practices.”