Local clothing company removes product after protest

PHARR – A local clothing company removed a pair of leggings from their website featuring a Hindu deity after a Hindu leader published several articles saying the product was disrespectful.

Miami Fitwear’s “True Wisdom” yoga pants were priced at $98 and featured an image of Lord Ganesha, the Hindu god worshipped as the remover of obstacles. Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, contacted Miami Fitwear founder Raquel Ponce about his objections to the leggings. Ponce apologized and removed them from the company’s website immediately upon receiving Zed’s request.

“Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines, and not to adorn one’s legs,” Zed wrote in a news release. “Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.”

Ponce added the leggings to her company’s website in January of this year because she “developed a connection” with Lord Ganesha during a difficult time in her family.

“I wanted leggings with Ganesha on it because the company is all about empowering and expressing yourself through yoga wear,” Ponce said. “It was not to offend anyone.”

Zed did not describe exactly what is disrespectful about picturing Ganesha on clothing. Ponce said her friends within the Hindu community did not find the leggings disrespectful and see the god featured on products worldwide.

She said instead of addressing her directly, Zed sent her an email on July 5 with a news release that had been published June 30. It claimed “upset Hindus” urged Miami Fitwear to take down the leggings.

Zed published another news release once he spoke with Ponce, stating he “spearheaded the protest” of Hindus objecting to the leggings. But Ponce said he was the only person that complained.

And although she was notified five days after the news release circulated on the Internet, she apologized and did as he asked to avoid more problems.

“I would have liked for them to email me first and ask to remove it before putting articles all over,” Ponce said. “There was no protest, no drama. He made it out to be bigger than what it is.”

The Monitor was unsuccessful in attempting to reach Zed via an email contact.

A quick Google search of “upset Hindus urge,” which were the first few words in the headline of the original news release, bring up a list of articles written in almost the exact same words as the one about Miami Fitwear. They all state Rajan Zed “spearheading the protest” urging various companies to apologize for and remove a product featuring a Hindu deity.