American e-commerce giant Amazon on Sunday faced a severe backlash after it was ‘discovered’ that the company sold a range of doormats with imprints of Hindu gods and goddesses on it. Triggering a massive outrage, ‘offended’ Hindus took to Twitter, trending #BoycottAmazon throughout the day, worldwide.
While Amazon was quick to withdraw these products from their inventory, this is not the first company to be put in the situation.
The face behind many such crusades in the past is one ‘very angry’ American Hindu, Rajan Zed - the eternal offence-taker and protester-in-chief. Based in Reno, the Indian -American has this perpetual habit of taking offence on behalf of world’s Hindus, especially when it comes to commercialized products.
He is not only the President of Universal Society of Hinduism but also a noted leader in Interfaith Relations, along with being a Hindu ‘priest.’
He became popular in 2007, when he was invited to be a guest Chaplain to offer invocation prayers at the US Senate for delivering the Hindu prayer first time. And thus began his offence-taking saga.
Here is the list of things Zed has led the battle against in the past few years.
In June 2014, within hours of launching a beer with Hanuman on its cover, Zed launched a protest calling identifying of the beer with Lord Hanuman as ‘highly inappropriate.’ Within hours of the launch, not only were the references to Hanuman removed, the Odd13 Brewing, Inc. in Colorado also removed the range of products.
Ganesha Duvet Covers
"Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines," Zed said in a statement, "and not to be slept upon,” with reference to Philadelphia-based firm Urban Outfitters duvet product. In his statement, he urged the company to withdraw the product as it ‘hurt’ the sentiments of Hindus.
Converse shoes with images of Hindu deities were withdrawn from market in the United States after an outcry by the Indian community, led by Rajan Zed, of course. "Our ambitions were to honour the music of Jimi Hendrix. It was not our intent to offend Hindu culture by having Hindu deities on footwear," wrote the director of Converse.
Screenshot: Baggins Shoes TV/YouTube
Lakshmi Gold Gambling Slot
“The wild symbol in this game was Hindu deity Ganesh, which offered the jackpot payout of 10,000 coins. Other regular symbols in this game included the cow, which is sacred to Hindus. Lakshmi was the bonus symbol in this five reel 25 payline video slot and a hymn to Lakshmi was delivered during the free spins,” said a report with regard to Lakshmi Gambling Slot which eventually offended you-know-who. He immediately wrote to Playtech who reportedly removed the game from the market.
Image source: en.casinoz.me
Leggings with Hindu imprints
“But faith was… sacred and attempts at trivialising… Hindu gods and goddesses was disturbing to the Hindus world over,” wrote Rajan Zed to the very same Amazon on the company selling ‘objectionable’ leggings with the imprint of Hindu gods.
Selena Gomez's MTV performance
Rajan Zed once ‘benevolently' agreed to ‘guide’ Selena Gomez on her exploration of Hinduism. His reaction came in response Selena’s debut performance of "Come & Get It” at MTV Awards ceremony in April this year, in which she is seen donning a bright red bindi, and plays a fire priestess.
“Bindi on forehead was an ancient tradition in Hinduism and had religious significance and was not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects as fashion accessory aiming at mercantile greed,” said Zed in a statement, adding that Hindus all around the world were happy that she did not sport a bindi in the single that released on May 7.
Zed Rajan’s ‘outrage’ statements have a set template. He hardly ever changes the words, even. It starts off with how the product has offended Hindu sentiments, and goes on to say that Hindusim is meant to be worshipped in temples and home-shrines and not be displayed in products and eventually ends with how the religion is all for artistic freedom but not at the expense of faith. Every single time.
Using religion to gain popularity and single-handedly making it a phenomenon is something that can be learnt from Rajan Zed. Or maybe, not.