Ramona yesterday showed me a photo which an Indian friend sent her on WhatsApp. You can see the pictures above – and the message with the photo was: ‘This company shamelessly uses Ganesh ji on shoes! Let’s stop this and bring them down – as Hindus we can do it!’ This text and picture shows me two things. Number 1: religion once more uses trivial events to create disturbance and violence among people. And number 2: this friend does not know Ramona very well! 🙂
Obviously I would like to write a bit more about point number one. For anyone who may not have understood the point of anger here, I will explain it. Ganesh is the elephant god of Hinduism. Shoes and feet are deemed dirty and impure in India, which is why you never enter a temple or holy space wearing shoes. You also never touch your feet to anything holy. Both would be a big sign of disrespect towards god. Now you can imagine how disrespectful it would be to put god on shoes and then step on them with your feet!
Well, to other people who have nothing to do with Hinduism, a food is a part of the body just like the hand. People keep their feet clean and like them just as much as their belly, back, fingers or other parts of the body. Hindus might think that feet are lower and always dirty but the majority of people on this world don’t.
And here we are, fashion clashing with religious sentiments! The god Ganesh has been a favourite for artists around the world who started painting him in various ways already long time ago. People wear pendants, have small photos in their purse and he is printed on t-shirts in thousands of different styles. Now someone had the idea to print him onto shoes. Not a big deal you might think – but you can already see the uproar in such WhatsApp-messages and facebook statuses!
This is what I always say religion is doing: you can see here how believers directly incite others to fight – and it is not clear that this fight will remain on legal terms or verbal! Violence has often been the result of such small issues which have been made big and bigger by religion! Religious sentiments are easy to hurt and religious people feel they have the right to hurt others whenever this happens!
The consequences are hateful feelings among people who would otherwise have lived together peacefully. And that all because of the picture of an elephant on a shoe. We have seen worse, much worse, with the example of Islam and cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. They have led to death threats and life-threatening attacks!
Believers however don’t want to see that. Another controversy here is that there is a cigarette brand that prints Ganesha on their packages. The packages are emptied and then thrown down onto the floor where they obviously come under the feet of people and land in the gutter among dirt and sewage. People walk on them, they get much dirtier than your shoes would normally get! This doesn’t matter – but the print on the shoes does! So much that people need to fight against it!
Maybe that’s how Ramona got this message. The girl knows she is not Hindu. She may not know that she is absolutely non-religious – but she believes she needs to spread the message that nobody should wear or even produce shoes with god on them! Even if the person to whom she sends this message doesn’t believe in that god!