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Monday, August 10, 2015

Urban Outfitters Removes Product After Hindu Protest

Urban Outfitters (UO), a publicly traded retail company headquartered in Philadelphia (USA) which offers a variety of lifestyle merchandise, has removed Hindu goddess Jewelry Stand from its website within about 12 hours after Hindus protested calling it inappropriate.

Lotus Jewelry Stand depicting multi-armed Hindu goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus, an “Online Exclusive” item which was described as “Perfect for holding all of your rings + things.”, did not show up after search on UO website today within about 12 hours of Hindu statesman Rajan Zed informing the company officials via email urging withdrawal.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and who spearheaded the protest, in a statement in Nevada today, thanked UO for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought Hindu goddess Jewelry Stand was very inappropriate and trivializing of highly revered Hindu deity.

Rajan Zed, however, indicated that an official apology from UO and its CEO Richard A. Hayne to the upset Hindu community was still due as it was their third incident trivializing a Hindu deity. Urban Outfitters apologized to Hindus and removed Lord Ganesh socks from stores and web after protest spearheaded by Zed in December 2013, calling it inappropriate. It removed Lord Ganesha Duvet Cover from its website after another protest spearheaded by Zed in July 2014.

Zed suggested UO and other corporations worldwide to 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 creating new products or launching advertising campaigns.

Rajan Zed had earlier stressed that Hindu goddess was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for holding your “things”. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.

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, Zed stated.

Rajan Zed had also pointed out that such trivialization of Hindu goddess 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 noted.

This imported ceramic white colored Jewelry Stand priced at $69, which Hindu devotees were finding objectionable, was elaborated as: “Enlightened white ceramic storage solution shaped like Durga in a blooming lotus flower.” Actually it appeared like multi-armed goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus.

UO, Inc. offers merchandise in Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain and BHLDN brands through stores in USA, Canada, and Europe; besides garden center, catalogs, websites and wholesale. It boasts of its “established ability to understand our customers and connect with them on an emotional level”, calls its brands “both compelling and distinct” and terms itself as “innovative” company. Richard A. Hayne and Tedford Marlow are President of UO, Inc., and Chief Executive Officer of UO Group respectively.

In Hinduism, Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and beauty and is also known as ‘world-mother’. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

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