(RNS) Urban Outfitters has pulled a new duvet cover featuring Lord Ganesh after an outcry from some Hindus.

After outcry by Hindu protestors, Urban Outfitters stopped selling a duvet cover depicting Ganesh and replaced the product's art with a "Sold Out" placeholder. "Out of respect for the Hindu community, we have discontinued that duvet cover, DENY Designs Director of PR & Marketing Kim Nyhus said. "We will, however, continue to offer the image on our vast array of wall art products."

After outcry by Hindu protestors, Urban Outfitters stopped selling a duvet cover depicting Ganesh and replaced the product’s art with a “Sold Out” placeholder. “Out of respect for the Hindu community, we have discontinued that duvet cover,” DENY Designs Director of PR & Marketing Kim Nyhus said. “We will, however, continue to offer the image on our vast array of wall art products.” Image courtesy Urban Outfitters

The cover depicted the elephant-head Hindu deity who symbolizes wisdom. It was only available online and was sold for $129-$169. Now, the webpage is saying it is “sold out.”

In a statement issued Monday (July 14), Urban Outfitters confirmed that the item was pulled.

“It was never the intention for this item nor any of the items we carry that feature illustrations of Lord Ganesha to offend our customers,” the company said in a statement. “We are supporters of Valentina Ramos’s unique and uplifting illustrations and this item, to us, was another example of her beautiful work. Though Lord Ganesha merchandise is popular within the market we understand the sensitivities certain items may carry.”

The clothing and furnishing chain will continue selling other Lord Ganesh items, including tapestries and wall art.

Decorative or artistic depictions of Ganesha are more appropriate than those that have a functional purpose, such as images of him on rugs and bedspreads, according to Rajan Zed, president of Universial Society of Hinduism.

Decorative or artistic depictions of Ganesh are more appropriate than those that have a functional purpose, such as images of him on rugs and bedspreads, said Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism. Creative Commons image by Nemo's great uncle

Rajan Zed, a Hindu activist from Nevada and president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, spearheaded the protest, saying the duvet cover was “highly inappropriate.” He said he was upset that it took the company almost two weeks to respond to the issue.

“You can put him in a frame and on the wall. That is fine,” Zed said in an earlier interview. “But not to be put on the bed, on which you lie and your feet will go on. That is very inappropriate.”

Zed also directed a protest in December 2013 to remove Lord Ganesh socks from stores. Urban Outfitters responded quickly that time, pulling the item and issuing an apology.

Urban Outfitters has used religious symbols on merchandise before, upsetting other religious groups. In 2012, the company sold a shirt that resembled the yellow Star of David patch that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany. In March the retailer was asked to remove a shirt that said “Jesus, I’m Drunk” with a picture of Jesus holding a beer.

Hoping to avoid this problem in the future, Zed wants senior executives from Urban Outfitters and other corporations to go to training in religious and cultural sensitivity.

KRE/MG END ADAMS

1 Comment

  1. At first, I was glad that Hindu’s were able to get changed what many of them felt was offensive. On second thought, however, I’m reminded that all people deserve respect – but not all ideas. Ideas are not people any more than corporations are people. Ideas do not automatically gain respect. Free speech is impossible if any single idea is declared off limits to discussion, to criticism, or even to bedcovers. If you don’t want to have Ganesh on your bed, then don’t buy it. To ban a product like this is little different from the oppressive and backwards blasphemy laws still on the books in many places. In this situation, it was not a law but their own private choice to pull the item – nonetheless, I hope the many laws privileging some ideas over others soon are removed. I hope our free speech is protected.

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