Upset Hindus are urging Bradford (Pennsylvania, USA) based Zippo Manufacturing Company to immediately recall Zippo lighters displaying images of Hindu gods, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that Hindu deities Ganesha-Shiva-Lakshmi were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used for lighting cigarettes.
Lighter companies should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Ganesha-Shiva-Lakshmi to be portrayed in this manner, Rajan Zed emphasized.
Zed also urged George Duke and Mark Paup, Zippo’s Board Chairman and CEO respectively, to offer a formal apology; besides withdrawing lighters carrying images of Hindu deities and Om from its Bradford flagship store and website and websites/stores of other retailers like Amazon, Walmart, etc.
Rajan Zed further said that 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.
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 stated.
With tagline of “Fire, heat, and fashion. Since 1932.”, iconic brand Zippo produced 600 millionth windproof lighter in June 2020. Zippo products are sold in over 160 countries/regions around the world, including India.