Upset Hindus welcome Australian swimwear firm’s apology over Lakshmi image

Reno, Nevada, May 8, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Upset Hindus have welcomed apology from an Australian swimwear label over depiction of image of Goddess Lakshmi on swimwear at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW) held in Sydney (Australia) from May 2-6.

A statement attributed to Lisa Blue Swimwear, headquartered in Byron Bay (Australia), published at certain websites, said: “We would like to offer an apology to anyone we may have offended and advise that the image of Goddess Lakshmi will not appear on any piece of Lisa Blue swimwear for the new season, with a halt put on all production of the new range and pieces shown on the runway from last week removed. This range will never be available for sale in any stockists or retail outlets anywhere in the world. We apologize to the Hindu community and take this matter very seriously”.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, pointed out that this apology was “a step in the right direction”. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed added.

In an earlier protest statement, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, asked the manufacturer Lisa Blue Swimwear and RAFW organizers to publicly apologize and immediately recall all swimwear which showed Hindu Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for pushing swimwear in fashion shows for mercantile greed of an apparel company, Zed argued.

Rajan Zed thanked various organizations and individuals world over who joined the protest. He suggested that businesses should be careful when handling various religious traditions as faith was something very sacred to the devout. He asked RAFW organizers to also issue a statement on this episode.

Other paragraph of Lisa Blue reported statement on the issue says: “Lisa Blue has been born out of a love of conservation, spirituality and a respect for all people. At no time would we ever have intended that the brand would cause offence. The use of images of Goddess Lakshmi was not in any way a measure of calculated risk taking, simply it was a desire to celebrate different cultures and share that through our brand”.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and beauty in Hinduism and is also known as ‘world-mother’.

Lisa Blue Swimwear claims to represent “the girl of the future who can be sexy, beautiful, powerful and environmentally aware at the same time”, whose designer-owner is said to be Lisa Burke. Besides Australia and an online presence, it has stockists in USA, Ireland, New Zealand, and Indonesia.

RAFW, held this year against the spectacular backdrop of Circular Quay, is claimed to be Australia’s premier fashion industry event providing a platform for designers to showcase their wholesale collections to the world’s most influential buyers and media. Australian Government, New South Wales Government, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel were some of its partners.