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6 Controversies Around Lord Ganesha From Across the World

From beer bottles to dog beds, Ganesha’s image has been featured in the most unlikely places, often angering Hindus.

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Indians across the world are known to be sensitive about their gods. They have, some may argue, time and again proved themselves to be extremely protective about their religious practices and careful about the portrayal of their deities. The depiction of Hindu gods in manners considered insensitive by some has often landed individual and organisations in controversies.

With the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi just round the corner, we look at some controversies that arose from the depiction of the Hindu ‘Elephant God’.

1. Ganesha as Evil God in Dragon Ball Super

In February this year, Dragon Ball Super drew flak from Universal Society of Hinduism because one of the eight Gods of Destruction in the popular Japanese anime series was related to Lord Ganesha. Hindu groups asked the producers, Toei Animation and FUNimation Entertainment, to immediately remove the character that seemed to be inspired by Lord Ganesha.

2. Ganesha on Dog Beds

KESS Inhouse, the Oceanside-based US company founded by Sara Gupta-O’Neill in 2016, got tangled in a controversy after objections were raised to dog beds and other products featuring images of Lord Ganesha. Hindu groups asked the company to pull down the products and issue an apology. But Gupta-O’Neill said that she grew up in a Hindu household and none of her family members found the products offensive.

 3. Ganesha Duvet Cover

Urban Outfitters is not new to controversies related to Hindu gods. Back in 2013, they upset the Hindu community by making socks featuring Ganesha’s image. The next year, they started selling Lord Ganesha duvet covers, which again angered the Hindu community.  

4. Ganesha on Swimsuits

In 2014, New York-based designer Mara Hoffman received backlash for selling low-cut swimsuits, mini-dresses and nylon shirts with multi-coloured elephant icons on the chest, which she called “ganesh sky print.” These  swimsuits were being sold at departmental stores like Bloomingdale’s and e-commerce websites such as Amazon, reported New York Daily News.

“[It’s] upsetting to Hindus because we worship Lord Ganesh as our primary deity,” Uma Mysorekar, the president of the 20,000-member Ganesh Temple in Flushing, had said then. “To improperly represent him on swimwear is insulting to our religion.”

 5. Ganesha’s Face on Beer Bottles

An Australian brewery, Brookvale Union, used the image of Ganesha on its ginger beer bottles in 2013. The previous year, Oregon-based Burnside Brewing Company had to apologise after it faced widespread outrage for naming a beer after the Hindu goddess Kali, reported News 18.

The tagline for the beer bottle ad says, “Quality Nonsense”. The bottle on the company’s website had the image of Lord Ganesha moving across the page and when you put the cursor over the image, it replaced Ganesha’s head with that of popular Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, and a plate of fire arose from Ganesha’s head.

Even though Brookvale Union apologised, and the website does not feature the animation now, it has continued to sell such bottles.

6. Portrayal of Lord Ganesha in a Sex Act

In a skit titled The Wrath of Ganesh on NBC’s SNL, Jim Carrey and Kenan Thomson demonstrated a sexual technique, mocking elephant-headed Lord Ganesh and his trunk during the act. Hindus found it highly offensive and disturbing, and asked Jim Carrey and NBC to apologise.

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