IT MAY BE DESIRABLE TO HOLD GODDESS LAKSHMI IN THE DEEPEST RECESSES OF YOUR HEART, BUT WEAR HER ON YOUR SLEEVE AT YOUR PERIL! AND, WHILE YOU MAY COVER YOUR BODY WITH A ROBE THAT PROCLAIMS YOUR RELIGIOUS ALLEGIANCE, TRY HOLDING THE IMAGE OF A DEITY ANY CLOSER TO YOUR HEART AND ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!
Whereas it is okay to wear a shirt or a stole with gods emblazoned on it, or even don jewellery with religious symbols, beware – underwear, slippers or toilet seats are a no-no for pictures of deities or other religious imagery. Even priests, who may use a stole with religious symbols, aren’t allowed to use the same stole as an asana. So, it is important to understand that though designer Lisa Burke’s bikini top would have passed muster, it was the bottom that blew the top off the lid!
A statement issued by the designer’s company Lisa Blue claimed that usage of the goddess’s image was “an attempt to celebrate different cultures”. Now, try convincing us that the face of one of our most venerated deities adorning a derriere, however pert and sexy, is a celebration of our culture!
Italian designer Roberto Cavalli singed his fashionable fingertips similarly seven years ago when he had to hastily withdraw his spa line amid an eruption of Hindu sentiment the world over. Images of Lord Ram, Vishnu and Goddess Saraswati on intimate wear for women frazzled the Hindu Human Rights body enough to raise the flag. French shoe brand Minelli withdrew their shoes with religious images after protests. Heidi Klum used Kali as a Halloween outfit, and popular brand Guess sparked protests with tank tops that sported Ganesha images and the words “Handsome elephant!”
It is indeed surprising that leading international designers and brands who turn their gaze to the richness of Hindu iconography with its exotic symbols fail to do their homework well, thus risking bad publicity as well as incurring financial losses! Unless there is a design to the entire fracas? Was Lisa totally unaware of these other blasphemous instances that preceded her collection? Or did the designer see it as a wild card entry to international fame?
What offended Hindu sentiment in the case of Lisa, Roberto or Minelli was that the image of the deities adorned underwear, bikinis and footwear. The same images emblazoned on shirts or scarves may not have aroused a protest. Similar protests had erupted earlier when shoes or even toilet seat covers have used images of Hindu deities.
If it is okay to carry your God on or in your handbag or flaunt him around your neck, one may well question how a fabric gets defiled the moment it touches your bosom or bottom? It would be very easy to attribute this to the rigidity and fragility of an inflexible mindset, not conducive to sharing the fruits of a decidedly rich culture. However that is not the case.
No religion in the world really allows you to wear its symbols below the waist as the reproductive and excretory organs are located there, explains an astrologer! These are the subtleties that the western mind needs to understand if indeed all these instances have been innocent mistakes, as they would have us believe.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, when asked about the use of religious symbols on clothes, says, “Instead of Mickey Mouse, they use Ganesha. But the problem is that we spend too much time trying to understand and fight for symbols rather than life itself!”
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