New York Hindus Protest Against Offensive Shoes

August 6, 2000

Source: The New York Times

On August 6, 2000, The New York Times reported that "last month, after a discount store in Jackson Heights started selling sandals adorned with colorful images of Hindu gods, Hindu residents began an e-mail blitzkrieg that elicited hundreds of outraged responses from around the world. In letters addressed to a Hindu anti-defamation Web site and to the manufacturers, the protesters described the placement of Shiva, Ganesha and Gayatri on the top and sides of platform shoes as an insult, and they demanded that the manufacturer cease production and apologize." The manufacturer declined an apology, believing that it acted within its first amendment rights, but its lawyer did say that the company did not realize that the now-discontinued shoes were offensive. "We thought it was like putting the image of the Virgin Mary on a T-shirt. Now we know."

Images of gods can appear on other articles of clothing, but shoes are a different story, explained The News India Times reporter Ravi Adhikari. "Shoes carry all the filth from the street," he said. "You are not supposed to take your shoes inside the house even, and there's no way you could go into a temple with them."