Upset Hindus are urging Brooklyn (New York) headquartered e-commerce company Etsy, Inc. to apologize and immediately withdraw Goddess Kali Cereal T-shirt displaying image of Kali seemingly promoting a cereal of blood fortified with human skulls; calling it highly inappropriate.
This is not the first time for Etsy to hurt the feelings of Hindu communities. In the past, after protests spearheaded by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, Etsy removed from its website the toilet-seat, flip-flops, ashtray, thong-panties carrying images of Lord Ganesh that Hindus thought were utterly insensitive.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada Tuesday, 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.
Rajan Zed also urged Etsy and its CEO Josh Silverman to offer a formal apology; besides withdrawing Goddess Kali Cereal T-shirt; as this was not the first time for the company to offer such products which were deemed offensive by Hindu devotees.
Zed suggested Silverman to re-evaluate Etsy 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.
Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed 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 asks.
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. The 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.