Promotion of lamb meat using the image of Lord Ganesha

AHAD Adds Global Hindu Voice to Protest Against Crass Australian Meat and Livestock Advertisement Depicting Lord Ganesha

For Immediate Release

9/21/2017

The following statement was issued by Ajay Shah, Convenor, American Hindus Against Defamation and Utsav Chakrabarty, Public Relations Coordinator, World Hindu Council of America (VHPA)

AHAD Adds Global Hindu Voice to Protest Against Crass Australian Meat and Livestock Advertisement Depicting Lord Ganesha

American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD), the most prominent Hindu organization against Hindu defamation joins the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Australia’s protest against Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) advertisement depicting beloved Hindu God Shree Ganesha for promotion of lamb meat (https://youtu.be/f8kuoFGgj8s).  The commercial further insults Lord Ganesha eating lamb meat, as “the elephant in the room.”  Additionally, dharmic saints wearing saffron are shown eating lamb meat.

Ganesha, holds a special place in the hearts of Hindus around the world.  Lord Ganesha is also revered by other dharmic traditions around the world, including Jains Sikhs, and Buddhists.  Buddhists, worship Lord Ganesha as the Buddhist God Vinayaka throughout Asia, including China and Japan.  In fact, many Buddhist traditions believe that Buddha himself was an avatar of Ganesha.

Ajay Shah, the Convenor of AHAD said, “To use the symbol of nonviolent faiths to promote a product that that represents the ultimate violence against innocent animals is abhorrent.  It is ironic that, Lord Ganesha is used to promote meat, whereas, millions of Hindus celebrate the festival attributed to Lord Ganesha, by fasting and abstaining from food.  Today, American Hindus stand united in their opposition to MLA’s  advertisement and demand that it be withdrawn immediately.“

AHAD is registering its strong protest against MLA with the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau.  The Bureau has apparently judged the advertisement to be non-offensive.  AHAD contends that Australian Advertising Standards Bureau has absolutely no expertise or right to judge what is offensive and non-offensive to Hindus.  The Bureau should have consulted credible Hindu organizations like VHP- Australia (akilaramarathinam@gmail.com) before making its determination.  AHAD requests the Australian Minister for Multicultural Affairs to take note of this advertisement and take take action against its further propagation.

AHAD will also reach out to Buddhist communities across Asia and urge them to boycott Australian lamb based product until AMC withdraws its advertisement depicting Lord Ganesha and saffron clad Hindu priest and tenders an apology to the Hindu community.  AHAD has also launched an online protest against AMC advertisement (http://indiapetitions.com/protest-meat-and-livestock-australias-portrayal-of-lord-ganesha-eating-lamb-in-advertisement/) where the global community can sign a petition and let their voice be heard.

About American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD)

American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) is the first and the most prominent Hindu organization in USA.  A project of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), AHAD has been actively monitoring media and products to ensure accurate representation of Hindu dharma, culture, images and icons.

For further information, please contact:

Ajay Shah
Convener, American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD)
http://www.hindunet.org/ahad
ajay@hindunet.org
Phone: (858) 866-9661

About World Hindu Council of America (VHPA)

World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) is the most prominent organization of Hindus in USA.  Founded in 1970, it has branches across the country.  For more information, please contact:

Utsav Chakrabarti

Public Relations Coordinator
World Hindu Council of America (VHPA)
P.O. Box 600
460 Boston Rd, Billerica, MA 01821

http://www.vhp-america.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vishwa.sampark
Twitter: @VHPANews

om_classic_thong

‘Om’ on thongs invite Hindu ire

‘Om’ on thongs invite Hindu ire

PTI | Feb 7, 2005, 02.41 PM IST

Original URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Om-on-thongs-invite-Hindu-ire/articleshow/1013700.cms

WASHINGTON: An American online store selling womens’ undergarments featuring images of Hindu Gods and religious icons has angered members of the community who have demanded their immediate withdrawal from the website.

In an ad for womens’ thongs, Cafe-Press.com has on display hundred per cent cotton ‘Hindu God Shiva classic thong’ priced at USD 12.99 with the religious deity’s face, another called ‘iGod Shiva Classic thong’ for USD 15 makes a statement “Namaste it loud. Your’re Hindu and you’re proud.”

The ‘Om Classic Thong’ priced at USD 8.99 explains “Om or rather aum is a sacred Hindu symbol that represents the absolute.”

Leading the protest for the products withdrawal is the American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD), the largest Hindu anti-defamation group in North America comprising several Hindu organisations.

“We have recently come across two sets of products -thongs and boxer shorts with the images of Hindu deities and symbols imprinted on them…AHAD finds the depiction of universally revered Hindu deities and symbols on the undergarments extremely offensive,” it said in a statement.

The website Cafe-Press.com last week had offended the Sikh community by displaying a range of thongs with the Khanda emblem representing the four pillars of the Sikh faith.

Sikh organisations under the World Sikh Council America Region (WSC-AR) had objected to the display of the thongs and had written to CafePress asking it to withdraw the offensive garment.
“We are very disappointed to know that CafePress is selling an item offensive to the Sikh faith..the underwear with the Sikh symbol and the accompanying language is racist and demeans the Sikh faith. This is especially hurtful because the Sikh community has been prefentially victimised after 9/11,” the WSC-AR complaint said.
The protests had borne fruit with CafePress withdrawing the product line from its site.

There have also been instances of western companies imprinting images of Lord Ganesha and Aum on the sole of flip flop sandals, God Rama’s image on sniff tissues and lunch boxes with images of goddess Kali and Durga.

kohler_small

Nataraja – Lord Shiva as a Scantly Clad Woman Hawks Shower Fixtures

Does this Offend You?

Kohlar Ad

Kohler, one of the most prominent plumbing supply companies is using Lord Nataraja (a form of Lord Shiva) in the form of a scantly clad woman and taking a shower to hawk its new shower products.

The image in the Kohler advertisement appeared in The New York Times on Sunday. Oct 13, 2002. This image is unmistakably that of Lord Shiva as Nataraja. The dancing pose, multiple hands, the hand gestures, the metaphor of water from shower too, resembles the flow of river Ganga (Ganges) usually depicted as flowing through Lord Shiva.

 

 

 

Traditional Nataraja Representation

The tag line for the advertisement “There is a Goddess”, clearly indicates that the advertisement is no coincidence, it is an unequivocal indication that the image of Lord Shiva was distorted and adopted for the advertisement purpose.

AHAD is disgusted by the abuse of the image of Lord Shiva in such a derogatory manner. Just as the scantly clad image of Christ in shower selling shower fixtures would be offensive and evoke strong resentment in the Christian community, this advertisement image has enraged the Hindu community. Hindu deities are worshipped, they are not exotic images to be distorted, mutilated and abused.

The Kohler Company’s insensitivity towards Hindus has been compounded by the fact that several calls placed to the PR department of the company by AHAD have gone unanswered.

AHAD demands that the Kohler Company immediately withdraw all the advertisements with Hindu images, and tender a sincere apology to the Hindu community.

AHAD reminds the Kohler Company that Lord Shiva is revered by Hindus around the world – major Shiva temples are found in India, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, UK, USA and many other countries – and these countries, Kohler has significant commercial interest.

AHAD requests the Hindu community to visit the AHAD web site and sign the protest book at http://www.hindunet.org/ahad/kohler/

AHAD has taken a lead role in countering the abuse of Hindu images by major corporation and media. AHAD led successful action of the Hindu community and procured apologies from Sony/Aerosmith, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Fortune Dynamics, Sittin Pretty Designs and others for abusing Hindu images and symbols.

Press Release: Hindus Enraged at Kohler Company for Image of Lord Nataraja as Scantly Clad Woman Hawking Shower Fixture

America Hindus Against Defamation Press Release

Hindus Enraged at Kohler Company for Image of Lord Nataraja as Scantly Clad Woman Hawking Shower Fixture

Kohler, one of the most prominent plumbing supply companies is using Lord Nataraja (a form of Lord Shiva) in the form of a scantly clad woman and taking a shower to hawk its new shower products.

The image in the Kohler advertisement appeared in The New York Times on Sunday. Oct 13, 2002. This image is unmistakably that of Lord Shiva as Nataraja. The dancing pose, multiple hands, the hand gestures, the metaphor of water from shower too, resembles the flow of river Ganga (Ganges) usually depicted as flowing through Lord Shiva.

The tag line for the advertisement “There is a Goddess”, clearly indicates that the advertisement is no coincidence, it is an unequivocal indication that the image of Lord Shiva was distorted and adopted for the advertisement purpose.

AHAD is disgusted by the abuse of the image of Lord Shiva in such a derogatory manner. Just as the scantly clad image of Christ in shower selling shower fixtures would be offensive and evoke strong resentment in the Christian community, this advertisement image has enraged the Hindu community. Hindu deities are worshipped, they are not exotic images to be distorted, mutilated and abused.

The Kohler Company’s insensitivity towards Hindus has been compounded by the fact that several calls placed to the PR department of the company by AHAD have gone unanswered.

AHAD demands that the Kohler Company immediately withdraw all the advertisements with Hindu images, and tender a sincere apology to the Hindu community.

AHAD reminds the Kohler Company that Lord Shiva is revered by Hindus around the world – major Shiva temples are found in India, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, UK, USA and many other countries – and these countries, Kohler has significant commercial interest.

AHAD requests the Hindu community to visit the AHAD web site and sign the protest book at http://www.hindunet.org/ahad/kohler/

AHAD has taken a lead role in countering the abuse of Hindu images by major corporation and media. AHAD led successful action of the Hindu community and procured apologies from Sony/Aerosmith, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Fortune Dynamics, Sittin Pretty Designs and others for abusing Hindu images and symbols.

American Hindus Against Defamation is a coalition of major Hindu organizations in North America. It is sponsored by World Hindu Council of America (VHP-A). For more information about AHAD, please contact Ajay Shah ahad@hindunet.org, Chetan Tanna chetan@pacbell.net or Pratap More sriraam@worldnet.att.net

kohler_small

Press Release: Hindus Enraged at Kohler Company for Image of Lord Nataraja as Scantly Clad Woman Hawking Shower Fixture

America Hindus Against Defamation Letter to Kohler

Hindus Enraged at Kohler Company for Image of Lord Nataraja as Scantly Clad Woman Hawking Shower Fixture

American Hindus Against Defamation
Contact : ahad@hindunet.org

Representing several prominent Hindu organizations in N. America

Public Relations Officer
Kohler Company

Dear PR Officer,

I would like to write to you as the Convenor of American Hindus Against Defamation, a coalition of prominent Hindu organizations in USA devoted to the awareness of proper use of Hindu symbols, icons etc.

On October 13, 2002, your company published an advertisement in the New York Times depicting a disorted image of Lord Shiva in his Nataraja form. The dancing pose, multiple hands, the hand gestures, the metaphor of water from shower too, resembles the flow of river Ganga (Ganges) usually depicted as flowing through Lord Shiva. You are welcome to visit our site:

http://www.hindunet.org/ahad/kohler/

to see how your advertisement is not an original work of art, but abuse of a deity worshipped by the Hindus.

The tag line for the advertisement “There is a Goddess”, clearly indicates that the advertisement is no coincidence – it is an unequivocal indication that the image of Lord Shiva was distorted and adopted for the advertisement purpose.

AHAD is disgusted by the abuse of the image of Lord Shiva in such a derogatory manner. Just as the scantly clad image of Christ in shower selling shower fixtures would be offensive and evoke strong resentment in the Christian community, this advertisement image has enraged the Hindu community. Hindu deities are worshipped, they are not exotic images to be distorted, mutilated and abused.

We would like to inform you that Lord Shiva is revered by Hindus around the world – major Shiva temples are found in India, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, UK, USA and many other countries – and these countries, Kohler has significant commercial interest.

I am not certain if you realize that this has already caused tremendous hurt in the community and we have been requested by several people to take this issue up with you. For past three days, we have made numerous attempts to contact you, however, you have not returned our phone calls. Your non-responsiveness has only reinforced our belief that you are insensitive to the sentiments of a billion strong global Hindu community.

We demand that the Kohler Company immediately withdraw all the advertisements with images of Hindu deities, and tender a sincere apology to the Hindu community.

AHAD has taken a lead role in countering the abuse of Hindu images by major corporation and media. AHAD led successful action of the Hindu community and procured apologies from Sony/Aerosmith, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Fortune Dynamics, Sittin Pretty Designs and others for abusing Hindu images and symbols.

Our organization website can be found at : http://www.hindunet.org/ahad/ where you can see our stand on similar abuse of Hindu symbols. I have also left my phone no. on your answering machine. I would very much appreciate if you can call me or write to me right away.

Sincerely,

Ajay Shah,
American Hindus Against Defamation

mr_patel_doll

Indians in US not amused by ‘racist’ doll

Original URL: http://headlines.sify.com/1645news1….not~amused~by~’racist’~doll

‘Mr Patel’, a politically-incorrect doll manufactured by a US company, has angered Indians in America.

When smacked on the head, the turban-clad doll talks in a sing-song “Indian accent”. The recorded messages range from “Don’t talk like that in front of my back” and “Hamburger. Everything on it, please, but no beef” to more explicit, unprintable messages.

Manufactures JDK products were forced to change one of the most outrageous messages “In my country, we would have already killed you already” after some customers complained that the message – combined with Mr. Patel’s turban – recalled Osama bin Laden. The message now says: “I do not believe in expiration date. It is always good!”

Spokespersons of JDK Products, however, laughed away allegations of racism. President Jay Kamhi told a newspaper, “Maybe somebody’s going to die of laughter, but that’s it! It’s ludicrous.”

“We played the doll’s recorded messages for Indians of all religions. They were excited about the doll, and we had only a five to ten percent negative reaction,” Kamhi said.

The look of the doll – which sports a Punjabi turban and a bindi, though the two would not normally be worn together and definitely not by a Gujarati named Patel – is part of the joke, said Kamhi

Other Indians, however, were not so amused. Ajay Shah of American Hindus Against Defamation told India-West that “Mr. Patel perpetuates a stereotype that goes beyond ridicule”.

“What would be the impact of this doll on the school children with the last name Patel? Would they be taunted … and when they protest, will they suffer physical harm?”

“Are the manufacturers of this doll ready to accept the legal and moral liability that will inevitably result from the physical and emotional harm caused to the Hindu community?”

Samples of the Mr. Patel doll, priced at $10.50, can be found online at trashtalkerdoll.com.

Sittin Pretti

Toilet Seat Company Flushed Offline?

Published in: Rediff.com

Published: 11/18/2000

Author: NIRSHAN PERERA

The owner of Sittin’ Pretty won’t talk, but her Web site may be talking for her. Lamar Van Dyke’s mom-and-pop e-commerce operation, which sells designer toilet seats decorated with images of Hindu gods, has been flickering on and off the Internet since yesterday. On Thursday, American Hindus Against Defamation discovered the Seattle company’s Sacred Seat product line only zeros in on the Hindu religion. For $130, consumers can purchase designer toilet seats emblazoned with bright artwork depicting Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali. AHAD convenor Ajay Shah immediately reached out to Van Dyke, who is the principal owner of
the company, to express the Hindu community’s hurt. But the prominent Seattle tattoo artist and lesbian activist has maintained a stiff silence in the face of repeated requests to initiate a dialogue.

Similar entreaties by Rediff.com and the NRI press to comment on the matter have also gone unanswered. Still, this morning some read meaning into Sittin’ Pretty’s on-again off-again accessibility. Some wondered if the Web site was Breaking down due to a traffic overload. Others pondered the possibility that Van Dyke is closing shop. Sittinprettydesign.com first went offline Friday evening. The company’s Web hosting service, Bellvue, Washington-based Oz.net Internet Services, said it had been taken down temporarily for “modifications.”

AHAD braced themselves for a possible product removal, or at the very least a press release. But the Web site went back up late Friday night with no discernable changes. On Saturday morning, however, it appeared to be pulled off the Internet again. Another phone call to Oz.net did not yield new information. Yesterday Van Dyke refused to answer a phone call placed to her primary place of employment, American Beauty Tattoo in downtown Seattle. A co-worker confirmed that Van Dyke was on shift and was in fact the owner of Sittin’ Pretty, but told Rediff.com that she would not speak to the press. In another breaking development, the Bharatiya Janata Party also blasted Van Dyke this morning from the other side the world. In New Delhi, party vice president Pyarelal Khandelwal strongly condemned the Sacred Seat product line and called for an immediate and unconditional apology. According to a PTI report, he said the ink of the United Nations resolution acknowledging the equality of all religions has not dried, yet “here we see a group of people deliberately denigrating Hindu gods, knowing that they are held sacred by Hindus all over the world.” Shiv Sena northern region chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal threatened to demonstrate in front of the American Embassy in New Delhi, while Vishwa Hindu Parishad senior vice-president Giriraj Kishore raised the specter of legal action. “We are insisting on an unconditional apology from them, failing which we will launch an agitation and sue the American firm,” Kishore said.

The owner of a company that sells toilet seats decorated with images of Hindu gods is a well-known tattoo artist and lesbian activist. A Rediff.com investigation revealed that Lamar Van Dyke, who is listed as the principal of Seattle-based Sittin’ Pretty, is an outspoken member of the city’s gay community who has contributed to sociology journals and is the subject of a documentary about artists exploring “unusual forms of body modification.” Van Dyke, who has not responded to repeated phone calls and e-mails by Rediff.com and the American Hindus Against Defamation, is employed at American Beauty Tattoo in downtown
Seattle. But in her off time Van Dyke runs Sittin’ Pretty from her Seattle residence. The one-year-old company employs two people and uses its Web site (sittinprettydesign.com) as a primary sales channel.

Yesterday, members of the AHAD (formerly the American Hindu Anti- Defamation Coalition) discovered her company’s Sacred Seat product line displayed bold pictures of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali on the bottom of lids. The $130 toilet seats protect the artwork with a waterproof clear coat and come in three colors. “Great as unforgettable gifts, or as conversation pieces for your own home, these toilet seats are guaranteed to add a smile to your bathroom décor,” the Web site reads. Van Dyke was one of four artists featured in Leslie Asako Gladsjo’s 1991 documentary Stigmata—The Transfigured Body. The 28-minute video looks at body modification as an exploration of beauty, self-determination, and female sexuality. Her essay, “Contracts and Contract Negotiating” in The Second Coming: A Leatherdyke Reader (Alyson Publications, 1996), is a how-to manual for dominants and
submissives in sadomasochistic relationships. As a self-described “radical S&M lesbian,” the Seattle artist is a member of a
highly visible minority community that is often castigated by others. “As women, we need to celebrate the fact that we have survived 2,000 years of invisibility. 2,000 years of our contributions being stolen, overlooked and labeled as insignificant,” she observes in a bulletin board posting on the Lesbian Resource Center News Online. But today the Hindu community pondered the irony of a radical lesbian feminist activist slighting the ideas held precious by another minority group. Nevertheless, Ajay Shah, who coordinates the AHAD, was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. “I don’t want to attach any labels to her right now,” he told Rediff.com. “For all we know, she might be Hindu. She may think it’s something really cool and it propagates Hindu dharma. We just want to give her a chance to explain herself and maybe withdraw this product. Unless we learn otherwise, we must assume that is being done out of ignorance and not malice.” “Most of these people don’t do things like this because they have something
inherently against Hindu dharma,” he continued. “I don’t think Lamar Van Dyke has some ax to grind against Hindus, or she is doing this on purpose. But right now Hindu icons and symbols have become part of the pop culture, from bindis to mehendi and all the other things. What people might be trying to do is cash in on that popularity without considering what kind of affect it will have on the Hindu community at large.” Shah sent Van Dyke a preliminary e-mail almost 24 hours ago and since then has left several phone messages. “I am not certain if you realize that this has already caused tremendous hurt in the community… ” the AHAD e-mail read. “We would like to give you the benefit of doubt … before we talk with press … and other members of the Hindu community. As a responsible business, we are certain that you will withdraw this product immediately from the market.” But Van Dyke has
remained silent. “I’ve been patiently waiting, but I haven’t heard anything from her yet. Everyone is waiting for her response,” Shah said this afternoon. As the next step, he said the AHAD will publish a protest Web site (hindunet.org/ahad/sittinpretty) today, where members of the Hindu community can learn about new developments and sign a protest book.

The AHAD has already carried out several successful cyber- protest campaigns. Recently, 15,000 protest petitions forced California-based Fortune Dynamic to stop importing shoes emblazoned with Hindu deities. And a 20,000-strong campaign caused the rock group Aerosmith to issue a public apology for their 1997 Nine Lives album. The cover art showed Lord Krishna with the head of a cat, breasts and wearing a woman’s blouse. “The thing that we will do, that we have always done, is to put a moral public pressure on someone who has been offensive,” Shah said, describing AHAD’s protest strategy. “We understand the First Amendment very well, we understand that people have the absolute right to say whatever they want. But on the other hand, protesting something is also covered under the First Amendment and that is our right.” Shah said that if Van Dyke continues to be unresponsive, the next step after an Internet protest campaign could be on-site picketing. “Our contention has always been that this causes tremendous harm to Hindus,” Shah explained. “I think the origin of much prejudice and discrimination against Indians in this country is the denigration of Hindu symbols. When people can ridicule your symbols, what stops them from ridiculing you?”

The owner of Sittin’ Pretty won’t talk, but her Web site may be talking for her. Lamar Van Dyke’s mom-and-pop e-commerce operation, which sells designer toilet seats decorated with images of Hindu gods, has been flickering on and off the Internet since yesterday. On Thursday, American Hindus Against Defamation discovered the Seattle company’s Sacred Seat product line only zeros in on the Hindu religion. For $130, consumers can purchase designer toilet seats emblazoned with bright artwork depicting Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali. AHAD convenor Ajay Shah immediately reached out to Van Dyke, who is the principal owner of

the company, to express the Hindu community’s hurt. But the prominent Seattle tattoo artist and lesbian activist has maintained a stiff silence in the face of repeated requests to initiate a dialogue.

Similar entreaties by Rediff.com and the NRI press to comment on the matter have also gone unanswered. Still, this morning some read meaning into Sittin’ Pretty’s on-again off-again accessibility. Some wondered if the Web site was Breaking down due to a traffic overload. Others pondered the possibility that Van Dyke is closing shop. Sittinprettydesign.com first went offline Friday evening. The company’s Web hosting service, Bellvue, Washington-based Oz.net Internet Services, said it had been taken down temporarily for “modifications.”

AHAD braced themselves for a possible product removal, or at the very least a press release. But the Web site went back up late Friday night with no discernable changes. On Saturday morning, however, it appeared to be pulled off the Internet again. Another phone call to Oz.net did not yield new information. Yesterday Van Dyke refused to answer a phone call placed to her primary place of employment, American Beauty Tattoo in downtown Seattle. A co-worker confirmed that Van Dyke was on shift and was in fact the owner of Sittin’ Pretty, but told Rediff.com that she would not speak to the press. In another breaking development, the Bharatiya Janata Party also blasted Van Dyke this morning from the other side the world. In New Delhi, party vice president Pyarelal Khandelwal strongly condemned the Sacred Seat product line and called for an immediate and unconditional apology. According to a PTI report, he said the ink of the United Nations resolution acknowledging the equality of all religions has not dried, yet “here we see a group of people deliberately denigrating Hindu gods, knowing that they are held sacred by Hindus all over the world.” Shiv Sena northern region chief Jai Bhagwan Goyal threatened to demonstrate in front of the American Embassy in New Delhi, while Vishwa Hindu Parishad senior vice-president Giriraj Kishore raised the specter of legal action. “We are insisting on an unconditional apology from them, failing which we will launch an agitation and sue the American firm,” Kishore said.

The owner of a company that sells toilet seats decorated with images of Hindu gods is a well-known tattoo artist and lesbian activist. A Rediff.com investigation revealed that Lamar Van Dyke, who is listed as the principal of Seattle-based Sittin’ Pretty, is an outspoken member of the city’s gay community who has contributed to sociology journals and is the subject of a documentary about artists exploring “unusual forms of body modification.” Van Dyke, who has not responded to repeated phone calls and e-mails by Rediff.com and the American Hindus Against Defamation, is employed at American Beauty Tattoo in downtown
Seattle. But in her off time Van Dyke runs Sittin’ Pretty from her Seattle residence. The one-year-old company employs two people and uses its Web site (sittinprettydesign.com) as a primary sales channel.

Yesterday, members of the AHAD (formerly the American Hindu Anti- Defamation Coalition) discovered her company’s Sacred Seat product line displayed bold pictures of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali on the bottom of lids. The $130 toilet seats protect the artwork with a waterproof clear coat and come in three colors. “Great as unforgettable gifts, or as conversation pieces for your own home, these toilet seats are guaranteed to add a smile to your bathroom décor,” the Web site reads. Van Dyke was one of four artists featured in Leslie Asako Gladsjo’s 1991 documentary Stigmata—The Transfigured Body. The 28-minute video looks at body modification as an exploration of beauty, self-determination, and female sexuality. Her essay, “Contracts and Contract Negotiating” in The Second Coming: A Leatherdyke Reader (Alyson Publications, 1996), is a how-to manual for dominants and
submissives in sadomasochistic relationships. As a self-described “radical S&M lesbian,” the Seattle artist is a member of a
highly visible minority community that is often castigated by others. “As women, we need to celebrate the fact that we have survived 2,000 years of invisibility. 2,000 years of our contributions being stolen, overlooked and labeled as insignificant,” she observes in a bulletin board posting on the Lesbian Resource Center News Online. But today the Hindu community pondered the irony of a radical lesbian feminist activist slighting the ideas held precious by another minority group. Nevertheless, Ajay Shah, who coordinates the AHAD, was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. “I don’t want to attach any labels to her right now,” he told Rediff.com. “For all we know, she might be Hindu. She may think it’s something really cool and it propagates Hindu dharma. We just want to give her a chance to explain herself and maybe withdraw this product. Unless we learn otherwise, we must assume that is being done out of ignorance and not malice.” “Most of these people don’t do things like this because they have something
inherently against Hindu dharma,” he continued. “I don’t think Lamar Van Dyke has some ax to grind against Hindus, or she is doing this on purpose. But right now Hindu icons and symbols have become part of the pop culture, from bindis to mehendi and all the other things. What people might be trying to do is cash in on that popularity without considering what kind of affect it will have on the Hindu community at large.” Shah sent Van Dyke a preliminary e-mail almost 24 hours ago and since then has left several phone messages. “I am not certain if you realize that this has already caused tremendous hurt in the community… ” the AHAD e-mail read. “We would like to give you the benefit of doubt … before we talk with press … and other members of the Hindu community. As a responsible business, we are certain that you will withdraw this product immediately from the market.” But Van Dyke has
remained silent. “I’ve been patiently waiting, but I haven’t heard anything from her yet. Everyone is waiting for her response,” Shah said this afternoon. As the next step, he said the AHAD will publish a protest Web site (hindunet.org/ahad/sittinpretty) today, where members of the Hindu community can learn about new developments and sign a protest book.

The AHAD has already carried out several successful cyber- protest campaigns. Recently, 15,000 protest petitions forced California-based Fortune Dynamic to stop importing shoes emblazoned with Hindu deities. And a 20,000-strong campaign caused the rock group Aerosmith to issue a public apology for their 1997 Nine Lives album. The cover art showed Lord Krishna with the head of a cat, breasts and wearing a woman’s blouse. “The thing that we will do, that we have always done, is to put a moral public pressure on someone who has been offensive,” Shah said, describing AHAD’s protest strategy. “We understand the First Amendment very well, we understand that people have the absolute right to say whatever they want. But on the other hand, protesting something is also covered under the First Amendment and that is our right.” Shah said that if Van Dyke continues to be unresponsive, the next step after an Internet protest campaign could be on-site picketing. “Our contention has always been that this causes tremendous harm to Hindus,” Shah explained. “I think the origin of much prejudice and discrimination against Indians in this country is the denigration of Hindu symbols. When people can ridicule your symbols, what stops them from ridiculing you?”

Hinduism Today: Scandalous Sandals

Original URL: http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/makepdf.php?itemid=4133

 

STYLE
Scandalous Sandals
A merican Hindus against defamation has just launched a

new campaign ( www.hindunet.org/ahad/shoes/) expressing their outrage and disgust over shoes with Hindu Deities printed on them. The reporter who broke the story, Ravi Adhikari, is a senior editor with New York City-based News India-Times. He found the shoes at a local Manhattan store called “$10 Express” and traced them to the Fortune Dynamic company in California. Worldwide objections began to flood the company, which elicited a terse response from their law firm: “We regret that you are offended by this style; others found it attractive. Since Fortune Dynamic has not engaged in any wrongful conduct, they will not issue a public apology.” Even the New York Times picked up on the issue. Their report begins, “Forget Miami’s Cubans. The New York City Hindu lobby is a force to be reckoned with.” “All kinds of people bought [the shoes],” said the store owner, “but not Indians.”

Varsha_Bhosle_ShittinGritty1

Varsha Bhosle’s Article on Rediff: Shittin’ Gritty

Original URL: Varsha Bhosle Column on Rediff

Shittin’ Gritty by Varsha Bhosle

By now you’ve all read about Sittin’ Pretty Designs’ toilet seats bearing images of Ganpati Bappa and Kali Ma, who are the only two deities featured in the company’s “Sacred Seat Collection” suite. Meaning, only Hindu deities are sacred, or, only Hindu deities deserve to embellish toilet seats, or, only Hindus take affronts lying down, or in this case, sitting up.

Interestingly, the company’s website went to great lengths to prevent the casual visitor from downloading the images, by splitting each, like a jigsaw puzzle, into several parts. I presume that the owner of the company, a well-known tattoo artist and a leading lesbian activist named, appropriately, Lamar Van Dyke, has either created the images herself or has the copyrights, haha. Of course, I love puzzles and so here they are; maybe you’d like one on your Hindu sandaas, too:

Kali Ma and Ganpati Bappa
The website describes Kali Ma as “the fierce Hindu goddess who slays demons and liberates you from the constriction of your negative thoughts. She destroys all obstacles and frees you from the darkness of your fears.” While Ganesh “removes all obstacles, destroys evil and provides you with protection on your journey.” I’m sure all you Hindus out there in God’s Own Country appreciate the freely flowing puns.

On Saturday, the California-based correspondent for The Asian Age reported that the outraged Hindu community in the US “plans to stink”. He probably meant “to raise a stink”, but with Mr M J Akbar’s ultra-secular stable of reporters, one can never be sure if that was Freudian or intentional or accidental. Still, I’m grateful that the newspaper reported it at all, since no other publication picked up the story — till the politicians jumped on the bandwagon.

Thanks to TAA and rediff.com, your favourite psycho heard the views of some “outraged” leaders of the Hindu community in the US: Ajay Shah, convener of American Hindus Against Defamation, said that “I don’t want to attach any labels to her [Dyke] right now. For all we know, she might be Hindu. She may think it’s something really cool and it propagates Hindu dharma. We just want to give her a chance to explain herself and maybe withdraw this product. Unless we learn otherwise, we must assume that is being done out of ignorance and not malice… What people might be trying to do is cash in on that popularity without considering what kind of affect it will have on the Hindu community at large.”

Vijay Pallod, a Houston-based community worker, said, “What is really offensive is that these two are the only images that have been listed in the Sacred Seat Collection. Why didn’t the manufacturers have the guts to put pictures of Gods from other religions on the same toilet seat covers? They know that if they did this with any other community there would be a huge public outcry.”

Beth Kulkarni, a member of the advisory council at the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Houston, the president of the VHP of America’s Houston branch, and described as “a pillar of Hinduism in Greater Houston”, disagreed with her “rakhi brother” Pallod’s contention that Hindus had been picked on: “I don’t know why they did such a thing. Maybe they thought they’d be able to sell their product,” for it might just be an “innocent act by uninformed people”.

Hmm… Am I the only one who thinks that something’s terribly wrong with this scenario? Am I the only one who feels that the aforementioned Hindus need to be administered a nice Islamic-style whipping…? Knock, knock… anybody there????

Let’s begin with Ajay Shah, who doesn’t want to pick on Dyke in case “she might be Hindu”. My eyes rolled up when I read that… Are all the secularists and pinkos of India non-Hindu? Are the ranks of the Kangress Parti Roman Catholic? Is the Samajwadi Party entirely made up of Muslims? Aren’t Hajpayee and his Bandar Hindu? But more significantly, if a Hindu had done such a thing, shouldn’t s/he have received a far stronger punishment than an offender of another denomination…? Can you see any logic in Shah’s statement? From where does it arise if not from the ingrained Hindu obsequiousness? What’s there that Shah needs explained by Dyke? That even after projecting Kali Ma as “the fierce Hindu goddess”, she went ahead and put Ma on the bottom of a toilet lid…?

Even so, Shah implores us to assume that Dyke may have acted out of “ignorance”. In Shah’s lily-livered world, an outspoken member of Seattle’s lesbian community, who also contributes to sociology journals, could have no clue about what causes offence to communities. Like, gays, a hounded minority everywhere, could be unaware of public scorn — and gay activists, more so. But Shah doesn’t think Dyke could have done it on purpose; perhaps, she mistook “sacred” for “scarlet”. You see, gay activists don’t have a history of extreme, in-your-face behaviour to draw attention to their community’s cause. Like, integrity’s gonna stop one from employing the same tactics when it comes to business.

However, the dipweed’s goal tops it all: Ajay Shah will be content if Dyke is persuaded to “maybe withdraw this product”. I wanna vomit. After incurring the cost of nothing more than laminating four toilet seats with the images and uploading the pictures on her website, Dyke will be let off without a scratch. No matter that the publicity she’s gained from the email campaign and the news reports is enough to make any PR firm salivate. So, even if Shah is awake to the possibility that Dyke might be trying to “cash in on the popularity” of the Hindu ethos, she’ll still be excused. For there’s no “malice”, if you please. Shah apparently believes that a well-known activist, who’s also been the subject of documentaries, may be so naïve that she’d put Ganesh and Kali Ma on toilet lids to “propagate Hindu dharma”… Don’t you just wanna aim your gun at, not Dyke, but this apology of a Hindu?!

And yet, I could have condoned Shah’s tender, loving, forgiving policy if not for this: “Attempts by The Asian Age to contact officials at Sittin’ Pretty Designs for a comment were not reciprocated.” Ajay Shah: “I’ve been patiently waiting, but I haven’t heard anything from her yet. Everyone is waiting for her response.” Such a naïve babe-in-the-woods, that Dyke.

The problem is this: Ajay Shah is not dedicated to Hinduism alone; he’s fanatically devoted to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, too. Hence his attitude when Hinduism itself is under attack: “The thing that we will do, that we have always done, is to put a moral public pressure on someone who has been offensive.” See what I mean? Since the loin cloth and “moral pressure” supposedly brought India her independence, Jockeys and toadying are gonna vindicate Ganesh in the US. Arrrrrrggghhhhhh….

Now let’s take the other Hindu worker: Vijay Pallod is offended because “these two are the only images” in the collection since Dyke didn’t have the guts to desecrate non-Hindu Gods. Vomit-time, again. Suppose if Dyke responded by putting Mohammed and Jesus on toilets, would Pallod and his acolytes be satisfied? WHAT is the relation between what Hindus want of their religion and what others want of theirs…? Will Pallod’s indignation be assuaged if the Virgin Mary, too, decorates a toilet — along with Kali Ma? Sheesh! Where do these dipweeds drop from?!

And then we have that “pillar of Hinduism’, Auntie Beth, telling us that “this might just be an innocent act by uninformed people”. When the Southern Baptists published “prayer guides” deriding Hindu Gods, this former Methodist and acclaimed VHP leader’s response was: “Generally speaking, Hindus always have a siege mentality with regards to Christians, anyway.” Auntie claims that her key mission is “to continue encouraging Hindus to let their self-respect and self-esteem grow” — while her own two children, born of a Hindu father (I’m gonna expand on the Marathi Brahmins of the US another day), do not identify themselves as Hindus… Why have you, O Shiva, placed me in such a nauseating community? The malaise is symptomatic of the Hindu “flock” everywhere — in India, we have our Auntie Sonia.

With Hindus like these, it’s no wonder that any dork gets up and sticks our deities anywhere s/he wants. In July, a California-based shoe manufacturer stuck our Gods on a range of footwear; America’s Hindus did exactly what they’re doing now — email campaigns followed by a loving “god-speed”. Read my lips, you morons: If you don’t hurt Americans where it hurts the most — their pockets — they will keep pushing at the boundaries of your limits. Instead of filling the coffers of the Democratic Party, you’d do well to invest far less in a legal suit. No pain, no gain: sittin’ pretty at your PCs and dashing off emails is not how wars are won — make the offenders shit slow and painful grit.

And now, Ajay Shah’s coup de grâce to finish Hinduism for once and for all: “I think the origin of much prejudice and discrimination against Indians in this country is the denigration of Hindu symbols. When people can ridicule your symbols, what stops them from ridiculing you?” What he’s saying is, because people are prejudiced against Hindu symbols, they discriminate against Indians; because they ridicule the symbols, they ridicule Hindus. Meaning, the entire exercise against the toilet seats is designed to stop people from ridiculing America’s Hindus! It does not rise from any particular devotion to Ganesh and Kali Ma, and it has little to do with any affront to the deities, LOL!!

These are dipweeds supreme, yuck! But the rest of you — the silent majority of Hindus who do get raving-mad at the slights to our Gods — I say this: Do not repose your faith in these so-called community leaders. Shah wrote Dyke, “I am not certain you realise that this has already caused tremendous hurt in the community” — limp words from a wimp. Do not get “hurt” — get even! Leaders are all alike — see where the BJP has left the kar sevaks of Ayodhya. If there’s no fiery Hindu organiser in America, fight individual legal battles against those who attack Hindu icons. For empowering the intellectually and morally corrupt will never get Hinduism the respect it richly deserves.

NYT: NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT – JACKSON HEIGHTS; Of Gods and Soles: Hindu Images on Shoes Lead to Protest

Forget Miami’s Cubans. The New York City Hindu lobby is a force to be reckoned with.

Last month, after a discount store in Jackson Heights started selling sandals adorned with colorful images of Hindu gods, Hindu residents began an e-mail blitzkrieg that elicited hundreds of outraged responses from around the world. In letters addressed to a Hindu anti-defamation Web site and to the manufacturers, the protesters described the placement of Shiva, Ganesha and Gayatri on the top and sides of platform shoes as an insult, and they demanded that the manufacturer cease production and apologize.

”It was really a shock to us, being Hindus,” said Usha Gandhi, a public school teacher who lives near $10 Express, the store on 82nd Street where the shoes were being sold. ”My daughter Sabrina saw it and said, ‘Oh, Mom, you should do something about it.’ ” Ms. Gandhi alerted The News India Times, a weekly newspaper based in Manhattan, but with readers throughout North America and in India.

After the paper published an article about the shoes, Indian news services reported that Fortune Dynamic, the California manufacturer, had stopped producing them, in response to a flood of angry e-mail messages. But according to Patrick Huang, a lawyer for the company, the shoes were discontinued because they were not profitable and the product was dropped before the complaints came in.

While images of Hindu gods may appear on T-shirts, shoes are a different matter, said Ravi Adhikari, the reporter who wrote the article in The News India Times.

”Shoes carry all the filth from the street,” Mr. Adhikari said. ”You are not supposed to take your shoes inside the house even, and there’s no way you could go into a temple with them.”

Danny Mizrahi, who owns $10 Express, said the 54 pairs of Shiva sandals, as they are described on the box, sold out quickly at $5 a pair.

”All kinds of people bought them — young, old,” Mr. Mizrahi said. ”But not Indian people,” he added.

Mr. Mizrahi said he did not know the shoes were a problem until Mr. Adhikari approached him. ”He told me: ‘Did you know this is a god? You’re stepping on god,’ ” he said. ”I told him I had no idea.”

While protesters continue to demand an apology from the manufacturer and some have discussed legal action, Mr. Huang said the company acted within its First Amendment rights.

”We did send out letters expressing regrets, but we do fall short of apologizing,” he said. ”We’re not violating any law; we’re not violating anyone’s trademark. We thought it was like putting the image of the Virgin Mary on a T-shirt. Now we know.”

TARA BAHRAMPOUR