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Yoga Beefs: Ganesha Yoga Mat Recalled for ‘Inappropriate’ Use of Hindu Deity

in YD News, Yoga Feuds

Ganesha Yoga MatIt seems not everyone is pleased about your stinky toes rolling over Ganesha to Down Dog. This yoga beef time pits the very vocal president of the Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed vs. Santa Monica based personalized mat biz YogaMatic.

Zed wrote a letter to the mat company Jan. 27 declaring the use of Lord Ganesha’s image on a yoga mat to be “inappropriate” asking for immediate recall, and comparing it to a mat with the image of Jesus Christ. Oops.

YogaMatic responded accordingly, with this statement from William Cawley, CEO:

“Thank you for bringing this concern to our attention. The mats have been duly removed. There are millions of Ganesha products available on the internet and the contributor of this mat supplied the design in good faith. Please accept our apologies to the Hindu community.”

He also added to the Santa Monica Daily Press:

“Rather than go into a debate with someone who is clearly trouble, it was easier to take it down. I certainly didn’t want to argue about it. Apologies to anyone who was upset. That certainly was not the idea.”

Considering Rajan Zed’s long history of public disapproval of the West’s (mis)use of Hinduism (including James Cameron for Avatar), we suspect that was a wise and diplomatic decision.

Zed also recently sent a similar letter to CafePress requesting they stop using the images of Vishnu, Kali, Shiva and other gods on their products. He writes that Hindu deities should be “worshiped in temples or home shrines and not to be denigrated by trampling under one’s feet or buttocks or legs, licked by animals and used as animal clothing,” according to a report in The Daily Journal.

CafePress, the same company skewered for its Osama bin Laden mats, responded to The Daily Journal with this statement:

“We regret any problems or concerns caused by the images in question, however, at this point we have not been contacted directly in regards to any specific images. If we do receive questions about the images we will review and determine whether they abide by our content usage policy.”

Frankly, we never quite understood the idea of cutesie, embellished and intricately designed, and essentially distracting, yoga mats. Do you really feel comfortable sweating and stepping all over that super cute photo of your dogs? Then again, it’s nice to have a personalized mat for your own personalized yoga practice, as it were. Or at the very least, so you can tell your mat apart from others in the frenzied midst of all those crazy yoga fests! Right? Oy vey.

The Ganesha and images of other Hindu gods being used all over the place like Hello Kitty is a whole other obstacle. Perhaps we Westerners have taken all this Shiva-loving for granted, and dare we say, too commercially? Doh!

But good luck trying to pry the Shiva, Kali and Hanuman tchotchkes and doodads from the hands of self-decidely devout yogsters.

[more coverage at laist; Gawker]

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3 comments… add one

  • Elizabeth

    The mats I’ve seen with images of Buddha are pretty offensive to folks in my family who are Thai Buddhists, and who recoil at the notion of people putting their feet (and other body parts) on the image of the Buddha. Which is why I don’t own one of those mats.

  • I agree with David, i too live in Thailand and love yoga!

    Keep it simple.. especially the mats!

  • I agree with Elizabeth, i live in Thailand and run a pillow company. The notion of having Buddha below anything is really a dicey topic.

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