Hindu cleric Rajan Zed objects to British designers Sera Ulger’s Goddess Durga swimsuits

Sera Ulger’s Goddess Sherwali Swimsuit.
Sera Ulger’s Goddess Sherwali Swimsuit. Photo credit: http://seraulgerldn.com

Sera Ulger’s new collection features swimsuits and leggings with prints of Goddess Durga.

A Dalston, Britain,-based designer has earned the wrath of Indian American cleric Rajan Zed.

The Nevada resident, who calls himself a “Hindu statesman,” reacted sharply to a new range of clothing by designer Sera Ulger.

Ulger’s fashion offerings feature swimsuits and leggings with prints of Goddess Durga, the prominent Hindu warrior deity. An $123 ( 95 pound sterling) swimwear titled Goddess Sherwali Swimsuits sold on the designers’ website has a picture of Durga riding her tiger prominently emblazoned on it. The other fashion items include a pair of leggings and a puffer jacket all with prints of the goddess on it.

Zed, the first cleric to invoke the Hindu prayer in the US Senate, which he did in 2007, has called the collection inappropriate. UK’s Evening Standard quoted the cleric as saying: “Goddess Durga is highly revered in Hinduism and meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines, and not to adorn one’s buttocks and crotch. The inappropriate usage of Hindu deities for commercial or other agenda is not OK as it hurts devotees.”

ALSO READ: Mural of Goddess Kali at Brooklyn Museum in New York draws the ire of Hindu religious activist (December 19, 2014)

He also added, “Hindus are for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else, if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers.” However, speaking to the Standard, Ulger has refused to roll back the collection. She told the paper: “I do want to sincerely apologize to the Hindu community for offending them without meaning to. I had no intention to hurt anyone during my design process. My brand is about girl power, woman power. It’s about attitude with a lot of emotion to the print. So, using the goddess went hand in hand.”

She added, “Not everyone loves it but that’s okay with the creative industry, you either love it or hate it. It would cost me thousands of pounds to take it out of production, something I can’t afford. I’m not a massive brand and I want to be able to express myself without someone telling me I can’t.”

Zed, who is also on the governing board of directors of the Northern Nevada International Center, has been leading the cause of Hinduism and creating awareness about misappropriating objects and symbols of Hindu faith in this country and globally. Late last year, he had urged the UK-based Tollgate Brewery to withdraw its Kalika beer, which featured Hindu Goddess Kali. The brewery released a statement that it no longer brewed the beer with Kali on it.

Earlier last year, Zaed, also the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, released a statement on his website urging Pharrell Williams and Adidas to rename their Holi shoes and apologize. “Hindus feel that Holi footwear collaboratively launched by American singer Pharrell Williams and multinational sportswear corporation Adidas is trivialization of traditions-concepts-symbols-beliefs of Hinduism,” he wrote on his website.

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Brown University students protest White, non-Hindu woman singing kirtans on campus (April 25, 2016)

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