British Hindu groups received several complaints and branded it disrespectful to the community after a designer brand used Lord Ganesha imagery for one of its leather handbag designs.
The Judith Leiber purse, described online as a “Ganesh box clutch”, was flagged on sale at the London luxury department store Harrods by the UK chapter of REACH – which stands for Race, Ethnicity And Culture Heritage and has a mission to promote and foster a positive image of India.
“Does Harrods have a Hindu Problem, why is Harrods deliberately hurting Hindus by selling this. This is not ignorance this is deliberate. Apologise & stop selling leather bag immediately,” the group posted on social media.
The store responded quickly by withdrawing the item and said: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we have removed this from sale from our site.”
The cow is a sacred animal in the Hindu tradition and animal hide related material is always distanced from Gods and Goddesses.
Trupti Patel, President of the , said: “We received complaints and sent it to the Harrods customer services. In the meantime, Nandini from REACH did a vociferous campaign and it was removed.
“The Hindu Forum of Britain always takes care and raises awareness about misuse of our Gods and Goddesses and runs campaigns to remove offending articles like floor mats, toilet seats and many more.”
Hindu Council UK also reported similar concerns and said the community felt disheartened that its traditions, faith and practice have repeatedly been used as "marketable and fashion products" in the Western world.
Rajnish Kashyap, General Secretary and Director of , said: “Hindu Gods and Goddesses are sacred to Hindus and they hold deep reverence to them. Hindus leave their shoes out before entering the temple; even at home when praying no shoes are allowed. Animal hides have no place in Hindu worship.
“In today’s time, when diversity, inclusion and religious understanding is so important, our message to all is to reach out to faith representatives or organisations like ours and take advice. We are here to offer our advice and services for better understanding of Hinduism and its practice and rituals.”
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Judith Leiber Couture has apologised and confirmed that it has ceased production of the bag with a leather lining and is offering free-of-cost replacements.
Lela Katsune, President of Judith Leiber Couture, said in a statement: “We are deeply sorry to hear that our Ganesh bag has caused offense to the community.
“Judith Leiber’s goal has always been to create unique pieces that respectfully celebrate art, individuals, and cultures. However, now that we are aware that the leather lining in the Ganesh bag contradicts the Hindu belief system, effective immediately we will be ceasing production on this style with leather lining.
“Going forward, this style will be produced with a synthetic lining. Customers who have purchased a Ganesh bag will have the option of replacing the leather interior free of cost.”