Upset Hindus urge Hawaii firm to withdraw Lord Ganesha shoes & apologize
News Release from RajanZed.com, December, 2018
(UPDATE: Response from MauiWoke posted below.)
Upset Hindus are urging Maui (Hawaii) based brand “Maui Woke” for immediate withdrawal of various shoes/boots carrying images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha; calling it highly inappropriate.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to adorn one’s feet for mercantile greed. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged Maui Woke to offer a formal apology, besides withdrawing Ganesha shoes/boots from its website and store.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed noted.
Zed further said that such trivialization of Hindu deity was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Zed added.
Maui Woke, whose tagline is “A State Of Mind”, claims to bring “exclusive items to inspire joy and balance in your life”. Besides other items, it sells 10 women’s shoes/boots named Ganesha on its website with prices ranging from $44.99 to $69.99, and carrying images of Lord Ganesha. These include varieties of Nonslip Canvas Shoes, High Top Shoes, Lace Up Canvas Boots, Ankle High Boots, Canvas Chukka Boots.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
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SELF PROCLAIMED HINDU LEADER RAJAN ZED THREATENS CENSORSHIP AND DEMANDS APOLOGY FROM ACCLAIMED MAUI ARTIST.
News Release from MauiWoke.com, January 1, 2019
The works of Maui artist Scott Hernandez are threatened to be pulled off the shelves of his eComm site mauiwoke.com for depicting the image of Ganesha and demanded to publicly apologize. Nevada based Rajan Zed is known for mass spamming press releases demanding artists, yoga instructors, movie creators, video game developers and businesses to publicly apologize for their use depicting Hindu deities including the world renown Ohm symbol and to discontinue their products and services. This also includes national brands like Amazon and Urban Outfitters have been duly warned.
Rajan claims he is a Statesman who represents and speaks for all Hindus of the world. However, it is well recognized there is no leader of the Hindu religion acting as such official. While he remains a virtual unknown in his native homeland of India and lesser known in the United States, his reach for Statesman in Nevada is debatable. The fact that the term "Hindu Statesman" is a misnomer at best and a oxymoron at worst (because Hindu is a religious term, and a statesman is a political term). As well, Rajan is self appointed president of his formed organization Universal Society of Hindus.
Rajan in his apparent attempt to reach for some perceived notion of power intends to censor the use of all associated images relating to Hinduism. This includes art, tapestries, movies, towels, music recordings, bedding, for profit yoga centers, shoes, leggings and all merchandise associated with Hinduism. Rajan promotes the idea of expression and worship are limited to Hindus only. Additionally he says deities are to be solely worshipped in temples or home shrines. He appears to have little regard for American liberties, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of enterprise and freedom of interpretation of religion in his efforts to seek control for censorship. In his mass spammed press releases and emails he claims "Hindus are upset or outraged...". However there is no proof or evidence to support that any Hindus are outraged or offended and is his reaction and opinions are his own.
Scott Hernandez owner of eComm site mauiwoke.com is a well known and celebrated local Maui multi-media artist and musician for nearly three decades. He is most recognized for his hit song "Boy" released in 1999 and is the creator of the world acclaimed Hana Collection jewelry and wall art since 1991. Small in frame but big in energy, Hernandez is a powerhouse of creativity and makes no effort to hide his connection to spirit wearing his sacred Rudraksha seed mala and crystal necklaces daily. Shaved head and tranquil demeanor while dressed with loose fitted linen blouse and capris, depict a sense of little Buddha in his presence.
Raising above his body, a near death experience in the late 1980's, Hernandez claims he became acutely aware that he was not only his body. Hernandez states "I would not change the experience of suffering for anything. The blessing of this experience sent me on my quest for consciousness and connection to all that are the infinite Universes and everything within and beyond."
In most recent years, Hernandez has returned to his youthful passion for the fine art of acrylic painting and graphic design where he studied under a full scholarship to the prestigious Laguna Beach School Of Art in 1984. Inspired by his spiritual growth, his paintings and graphic art depict images of sacred geometry, child monks, modern depictions of Buddha, Hindu inspired deities and dreamy nature scenes of east Asia. With the encouragement of friends, fellow retailers and gallery owners he began to print and merchandise his beloved works. The artist says with an infectious smile "I dont really have a choice of what I produce, be it music, painting, writing or ceramics. It all comes from a place of silence. When the imagery or sound comes through, I simply use my hands to bring it into this physical dimension." Its a gift and a talent he does not take lightly and claims he does not practice political correctness or censorship when creating his works.
Hernandez seemingly puzzled and hurt by the demands of Rajan Zed to withdraw his self designed merchandise and to publicly apologize to whom... is unknown. However don't expect Hernandez to remain silent.
Scott Hernandez owner of Maui Woke has publicly released this statement today in response to Rajan Zed: "It is with great sadness that I respond to Mr Zed and his unreasonable, un-American and nonspiritual demands. I am truly confident that I have not offended the Hindu community the world over nor have I offended my creator. I make no apologies to Mr Zed for my craft and how I choose to market it. I will not pull my merchandise under any circumstance. Mr Zed has attempted to bully me and hundreds of other artists and businesses into submission. He published a world-wide press release regarding my company 2 days prior to contacting me via email accusing me of greed and demanding I withdraw items from my store. Mr Zed published the press release claiming he represents all Hindus. Stating Hindus the world over are upset and demand immediate withdrawal of my merchandise with immediate apology. This is certainly not the way of Hindu and and I feel certain he is a fraud attempting to speak for Hindus world-wide who have not elected nor endorsed him to do so. His actions are very dangerous to the rights of Americans and Hindus alike. These are not the actions of a spiritual and enlightened man. Yet the desperate measures of a man clinging to a sense of power and authority.
I'm not out to harm or disrespect the Hindu culture but rather to honor it and share inspiration through my imagery. It's not uncommon to enter someone's house around the globe, depicting spiritual images on tapestries adorning walls, clothing, prints, towels, curtains, figurines etc. In America we don't have Hindu temples on every corner as they do in India so we seekers of inspiration adopt spiritual images adapted for our western culture.
I feel deeply that Mr Zed is a delusional tyrant and deeply misguided by his efforts and intentions. Which will only result in bringing mischaracterization to Hinduism or any other religion or philosophy for that matter. The Hindu culture runs deep and is very complicated. The attempt of Mr Zed to wrap it in a neat little package to serve his personal agenda is surely impossible and may soon prove to backfire. Hinduism, as in all religions belong to the world, to the people and their personal interpretations. Religion and philosophy as I know it are public domain, without copyright, without discrimination.
My final words bring to mind the age of political correctness aka censorship. This is a dangerous trend-word and belief system that is brewing in the world, intended to destroy and divide the very fabric of our culture and society. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of interpretation and freedom of enterprise are at risk. I love my country and my culture. While not perfect, it's up to each of us to protect our rights, culture and religious interpretation and expression. " says Hernandez.
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League of India: US Hindus Furious, Seek Apology as Hawaii Firm Uses Ganesha Image on Shoes