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Spray flies over shower Nataraja

Washington, Oct. 21: Hindus in America who forced a California-based company to withdraw footwear with images of Shiva and Ganesha deities are now up in arms over an advertisement in The New York Times.

The advertisement two Sundays ago by Kohler, a leading US distributor of plumbing products, shows what American Hindus contend is a Nataraja image as a scantly clad woman taking a shower.

American Hindus Against Defamation, a coalition of Hindu organisations in North America affiliated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America has written to Kohler, asking the company to suspend the advertisement and apologise to Hindus.

The organisation has also asked Hindus here to bombard the company’s telephone lines and fax machines with protests against the advertisement.

It contends that the dancing pose of the image in the advertisement, its multiple hands, the still gestures and the metaphor of water resemble the flow of river Ganges usually depicted as flowing through Lord Shiva.

In addition, the tag line for the advertisement says “There is a Goddess”.

The Hindu organisation says in its press release that “it is an unequivocal indication that the image of Lord Shiva was distorted and adopted for the advertisement purposes”.

It is too early to say what impact its campaign will have on the company. But American Hindus Against Defamation has a successful record of securing apologies from US companies which are perceived as insulting Hindu sensibilities.

Its most celebrated campaign was two years ago when shoes with Hindu religious motifs were pulled off store shelves after protests, organised jointly with other Indian organisations.

Similar campaigns have resulted either in apologies or product changes or withdrawals by Sony, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Fortune Dynamics, Aerosmith and Sittin Pretty Designs.

In the case of Sony, the company’s affiliate, Columbia Records, brought out a CD by an American rock group, Aerosmith, which depicted Lord Krishna wearing a female garment on its cover. The CD was called Nine Lives.

The protest against Universal Studios was prompted by a TV show, Xena: Warrior Princess, which allegedly distorted Lord Krishna’s mythical image sacred to Hindus.

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