A French footwear company has recently managed to offend just about every member of the UK’s Hindu community.
So how did they manage this feat? By selling shoes with an image of Lord Rama imprinted on them. Now it is not unusual to see Hindu images and deities on T-shirts and the like in Britain and elsewhere, but this latest manifestation is a step too far.
Because Lord Rama is one of the most revered gods in Hinduism and is known as an ideal man: his image is adored by believers, his status respected and he encapsulates the peace and humanity of Hindus. After all, religion, any religion, is not fashion, and Hinduism is the oldest religion of them all.
Anyway, despite pleas to remove the offending shoes from its shelves, the company, called Minelli, refuses to do so. This lack of action in France caused Hindu Human Rights (HHR) to stage a demonstration in Britain outside the French Embassy.
Arjun Malik, a spokesman for the organisation, explained why this was necessary to Britain’s Eastern Eye newspaper: “Enough is enough. We sent a letter to the company and they have not bothered to reply to us. Our members have been calling them up on a daily basis and we have had e-mails condemning the shoes from all over the world. We want the French government to take action. Lord Rama’s image is sacred and if we fail to act now, the offensive use of Lord Rama’s image may get worse”.
The secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, Ramesh Kallidai, agrees that clothing manufacturers of all kinds should show rather more respect to a religion that has more than a billion followers across the world: “In our culture, we do not consider it respectful to put an image of a god on your feet. It is offensive to Hindus all over the world. It is sad that clothing people do this kind of thing over and over again”.
And why do the clothing people do such things so often? Well, unfortunately, there is one very simple answer. Whether it be the image of Che Guevara, Madonna, or even Lord Rama on the T-shirt or whatever, the aim is to make money. And that’s all there is to it. Sad but true.
July 11, 2005