Upset Hindus are urging Christchurch (New Zealand) based acupressure mat firm Shakti Mats for immediate withdrawal of sacred Hindu symbols “Om” and “Yantra” from their mats; calling it highly inappropriate.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that both “Om” and “Yantra” were greatly revered icons in Hinduism and it was highly trivializing and disrespectful to lie/sit/stand/tread/walk on these. Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu concepts or symbols or icons or deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged Shakti Mats to offer a formal apology, besides removing the sacred Hindu symbols from the mats.
Mat companies should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu icons to be displayed on a mat, Rajan Zed emphasized.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed noted.
Rajan Zed further said that Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Zed added.
Zed points out: In Hinduism, “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, is used to introduce and conclude religious work. Usually considered the most powerful mantra, “Om” has been equated with brahman, isvara, atman, etc.
Ancient “Yantra”, visual equivalent of mantra, which represented the Goddess and the cosmos, is a serious and sacred symbol/concept used for Hindu liturgy and meditation; and is installed in many Hindu temples. Its intersecting triangles represented Siva and Sakti, and many times it is meditated upon as a deity; Rajan Zed indicates.
Shakti Mats, whose tagline is “Meet Your Personal Masseuse”, sells acupressure mats (describing those as “a daily self-care tool based on the Indian bed of nails”) and accessories. Each mat has 4,000 to 8,000 spikes and priced at $69. Besides seemingly selling on its country-specific websites— New Zealand, Australia, USA-Asia, Europe, United Kingdom—it sells over Amazon and at various retailers in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Tauranga, Dunedin, Whangarei, Invercargill, etc. Georg and Jon are the founders.