x

Culture

Activist Objects to Museum SellingToys of Hindu Deities

October 19, 2022

BOSTON — A Hindu rights activist is calling on a Massachusetts museum to stop selling children’s plush toys representing three Hindu deities, which he says are “insensitive.”

Toys depicting Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman were available on the Peabody Essex Museum’s online shop last week but had been removed by Tuesday, Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said in a statement.

The deities are “greatly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely on the floor, bathrooms, cars, etc.” Zed said. He also called for a formal apology from the museum. Zed previously asked the Rubin Museum of Art in New York to stop selling the toys.

The Salem-based Peabody Essex Museum halted sales of the toys while it reviewed the complaint, spokesperson Whitney Van Dyke said in an email. “These items will be back on sale shortly,” she said.

The museum pointed out that the toys are widely available and are manufactured by New Jersey-based Modi Toys, founded by an Indian American family.

They are intended to spark curiosity in Hindu culture and heritage, company co-founder Avani Modi Sarkar said in a statement.

“While we understand not all will agree with our approach, we take pride in knowing we are giving families an option to learn and practice Hinduism in a fun and a functional manner,” she said.

Another organization, the Hindu American Foundation, which posts guidelines for the commercial use of Hindu imagery on its website, has no problem with the toys, spokesperson Mat McDermott said.

“While we recognize Mr. Zed’s concerns, we have no categorical objection to the sale of these toys,” said McDermott, who noted that he has seen them for sale in Hindu temples. The toys are also sold online by mega-retailers Amazon and Walmart.

The Peabody Essex Museum has an extensive collection of Indian and South Asian pieces on display that “celebrate the beauty, diversity, and complexity” of the region, the museum said.

Hinduism is the world’s third-largest religion with about 1.1 billion adherents.

The Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism has initiated several campaigns targeting what Zed considers the misuse of sacred symbols for commercial purposes.

In 2020, online home goods retailer Wayfair pulled a beach towel depicting a Hindu deity after objections by the organization. Zed was also part of an interfaith coalition that in 2019 called on nightclubs to stop using Buddhist and Hindu imagery as decor.

 

RELATED

(THE CONVERSATION/AP) An important piece of early Christian history, the Crosby-Schøyen Codex, is up for auction at Christie’s in London.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Three Little Piggies at a Yoga Class = Maximum Happiness

SPENCER, Mass. (AP) — Three little piggies went to a yoga class.

Leave it to New Orleans' Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral festival to come up with something you won’t find at any others around the United States - including goat burgers, baklava sundaes and ouzo jello shots.

CHALKIDA, Greece - As Greece is pushing to rein in tax evaders - which no government has been able to do - the director and four employees at the Halkida tax office on the country’s second-biggest island of Evia, were arrested on bribery charges.

MYKONOS – Apanemi, Mykonos Theoxenia, hosts an unforgettable culinary experience on June 2, 9 PM, with its the Michelin All Star Voyage Culinaire Night.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.