A Hindu activist called upon the luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton to pull a yoga mat made partly from cowhide leather, calling it “hugely insensitive.” Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said in a statement Tuesday that the mat is “highly inappropriate” to practicing Hindus, who regard cows as sacred symbols of life.
“The scenario of yoga — a profound, sacred and ancient discipline introduced and nourished by Hinduism — being performed on a mat made from a killed cow is painful,” Zed said. The company’s yoga mat, made mostly of canvas with leather details and a cowhide carrying strap, retails for $2,390 online and described the product as, "Meditative stretching takes on a sleek bent with the Louis Vuitton yoga mat."
In an email to AP, Zed called on Louis Vuitton executives to apologize and adhere to its corporate code of conduct, which includes commitments to ethical and social responsibility. The company “should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, mocking serious spiritual practices and ridiculing entire communities,” he said.
Meditative stretching takes on a sleek bent with the Louis Vuitton Yoga Mat. It comes detailed with luxury House signatures, including natural cowhide leather details and a Monogram canvas strap and card holder. pic.twitter.com/WGP1pZrfDE— The Nuova (@TheNConcierge) December 23, 2020
The Universal Society of Hinduism, which is based in Reno, Nevada, has led several recent campaigns targeting what it considers the commercial misuse of sacred symbols.
Zed’s organization is part of an interfaith coalition that’s recently called on Anheuser-Busch InBev to rename its Brahma beer line — which shares its name with a Hindu god, but isn’t named for the deity, the beer giant says — and also urged nightclubs to stop using sacred Buddhist and Hindu imagery as decor.
In August, online home goods giant Wayfair pulled a towel depicting the Hindu deity Lord Ganesha after the coalition objected.
(With AP inputs)