Brooklyn (New York) headquartered e-commerce company Etsy, Inc. removed Goddess Kali Cereal T-shirt, displaying image of Kali seemingly promoting a cereal of blood fortified with human skulls; within 17-hours of Hindu protest, who called it “highly inappropriate” and a desecration.
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 thought that such an image of greatly venerated goddess Kali was utterly insensitive.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested Etsy to re-evaluate its systems and procedures and send its staff for religious and cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.
Rajan Zed had said that Etsy should have been enlightened by now that Hindu deities were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines; and not to be slighted, mocked-at, disrespected, insulted, abused, reimagined for mercantile greed. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it was painful for the devotees.
Zed indicated that they were still waiting for a formal apology from Etsy and its CEO Josh Silverman as this was not the first time for the company to offer such products which were deemed offensive by Hindu devotees. In the past, after protests spearheaded by Zed; Etsy removed from its website the toilet-seat, flip-flops, ashtray, thong-panties carrying images of Lord Ganesh; which Hindus thought were downright callous.
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.
Does offering products like Goddess Kali Cereal T-shirt really match Etsy’s commitment of “using the power of business to strengthen communities and empower people” and its stated mission to “keep commerce human”? Zed had asked.
Etsy, which describes itself as “global marketplace”, was founded in 2005 in an apartment in Brooklyn; and now has additional offices in Germany, Ireland, UK, India, France, Canada, Chicago, San Francisco, Hudson (New York). It claims to have had annual gross merchandise sales of $10.3B in 2020. Objectionable Goddess Kali Cereal T-shirt was priced at $25.60.
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 USA.