Walmart Doll

Amid Hindu protests led by University Society of Hinduism president Rajan Zed, Wal-Mart has removed Lord Ganesh plush dolls from its stores. (photo provided)

Amid protests by the Indian American Hindu community led by Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Wal-Mart has remove its Lord Ganesh plush doll from its stores and online.

Zed Dec. 25 had urged the retail giant to remove the doll of Lord Ganesh, who is highly revered in Hinduism and is meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines.

The society president also urged Wal-Mart chief executive Doug McMillon and board chairman Gregory B. Penner to offer a formal apology, besides withdrawing the “Ganesh Plush Doll” from its website. No apology had been issued at the time of press.

The “Ganesh Plush Doll,” earlier selling for $18.94 at Walmart.com, now shows up as “This item is no longer available” when a customer tries to purchase it online.

Zed thanked Wal-Mart for understanding the concerns of the Hindu community which thought that marketing Lord Ganesh as a plush doll was trivializing and insensitive.

Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed noted, adding that in Hinduism, Lord Ganesh had been worshipped as a god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and was invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

In its product description, Wal-Mart said the plush doll is also the “god of cuddliness” while listing it in the “Religious Novelty” and “Funny Gift” categories.

“It was saddening for the devotees to see Lord Ganesh reduced as a toy in the form of a plush doll under the mercy of the owner, while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities,” Zed said.

Zed suggested that Wal-Mart and other companies should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had an understanding of the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns.

Zed also urged the withdrawal of two other products involving Lord Ganesh and being sold at Walmart.com, including the Shri Ganesha Belly Button Ring and Ganesha God Pendant.

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