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.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged Pharrell Williams and Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted to rename their Holi shoes which many Hindus felt were highly insensitive as religious festival of Holi was linked to various deities; and offer formal apology.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that Pharrell Williams and Adidas should have done some home work before taking Hinduism concepts frivolously and using these to make a fashion statement and sell shoes for mercantile greed, some of which contain leather.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 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, Rajan Zed noted.
Inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts or symbols or imagery for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it might be painful to many devotees. 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 many followers, Zed added.
Twelve Holi shoes, ranging between $95 and $250, appear on Adidas website; five of which are “coming soon”, six are “new” and one is “sold out”. General release date is March 16, while pre-release was on March two. Adidas states: “inspired by a Hindu festival, artist Pharrell Williams designs these shoes”. Adidas describes Holi as ancient spiritual festival.
Joie de vivre festival of Holi welcomes the beginning of spring and starts about ten days before the full moon of Phalguna. The ceremonies include the lighting of the bonfires, during which all evils are symbolically burnt. Holi also commemorates the frolics of youthful Lord Krishna; celebrates the death of demoness Putana, burning of demoness Holika, and destruction of Kama by Shiva. Holi fell on March two this year.
Adidas, headquartered in Herzogenaurach (Germany) and whose history goes back to 1924, claims to “produce more than 850 million product units every year”. “Creating the New” is its 2020 strategy. Adidas—Pharrell Williams collaboration is said to be in its fourth year.