The Universal Society of Hinduism, an organization founded in Reno, Nevada, by Rajan Zed, a self-described ‘Hindu statesman’, sent a protest letter to the high-end chain Nordstrom saying Hindus are upset after the department store brought out a vase shaped like an erect penis and named it after the Hindu deity Shiva.
Nordstrom has apologized and withdrawn the “highly inappropriate” item from the shelves, according to a press release from Zed.
In an email to Zed, Nordstrom’s Co-President Erik Nordstrom wrote, “Thank you for writing and bringing this matter to my attention. We certainly do not want to carry merchandise that offends anyone, especially for religious reasons. Please know that the vase has been removed from our website. I hope you will accept my apologies for any disappointment we have caused you or others.”
Zed then thanked Nordstrom for understanding the concerns of the Hindu community which thought associating Lord Shiva with such a product was highly insensitive.
According to the press release, Zed suggested that Nordstrom and other companies should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they can understand the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns.
Zed said that Lord Shiva and Shivalinga were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshiped in temples or home shrines and not used as a vase for holding cut flowers, which might end up as a decoration in toilets, bathrooms, or elsewhere.