E-Commerce giant Amazon found itself in the midst of a major controversy earlier this month after buyers discovered doormats with images of various gods and religious symbols being sold online. Amazon was quick to remove the doormats in question but not before the blasphemous products had already set the Internet reeling with anger, causing the hashtag #BoycottAmazon to trend across social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, within hours.
Calling for a ban on the American retail giant, thousands of religious consumers claimed that they had deleted the Amazon app from their mobile phones and other electronic devices. More than 60 such doormats had been showcased by seller Rock Bull on the website. While some featured an array of Hindu gods, including Shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, Ganesha and Durga, others depicted famed religious temples and shrines from across India. Priced between $14.49 and $25.74, the description for these listings stated they could be used in any part of the house, including steps as well as bathrooms. Amazon’s predicament worsened once it discovered that some of the doormats also featured Jesus or the Quran and other symbols from both religions.
However, not everyone rushed to boycott Amazon, as this is not the first time that the e-commerce website has found itself embroiled in such a controversy. In 2014 for example, a similar situation surfaced after a person tried selling women’s leggings with images of various Hindu deities.
Speaking to the media, Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said both Amazon and its president Jeffrey Bezos should issue an apology seeking forgiveness from Hindus across the world because their religious sentiments had not only been trivialized but also hurt. Recalling another instance where a pair of pants with the image of Lord Ganesha were being sold on the website, Zed said this was the third time since 2014 that such a gross mistake had been committed by the e-commerce giant.
“Gods and symbols of Hinduism are meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for absorbing water or dirt from shoes… Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial purposes is not okay as it hurts devotees,” he said.
Hinduism happens to be the oldest and third largest religion in the world, with approximately one billion adherents worldwide.
“It has a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled… Hindus are for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt followers,” Zed stressed.
In its defense however, Amazon, a Fortune 500 company that was founded in 1994, claims to make available for online buyers, ‘Earth’s Biggest Selection’.
Photo Credits: Amazon Sellers Lawyer