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Yoga Mat Smackdown: Hindu Man Asks Santa Monica Yoga Company to Stop Putting Lord Ganesha on Its Mats

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Photo by A.C. Thamer via the LAist Featured Photos pool
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A yoga mat maker in Santa Monica has pulled designs featuring the Hindu god Lord Ganesha—the deity with an elephant's head and a human body—from its yoga mats after a self-proclaimed spokesman for Hinduism demanded it.Nevadan Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has made it his mission to stop companies from using—or as he sees it abusing—the signs and symbols associated with Hinduism, whether it's on a yoga mat or T-shirt. He told the Santa Monica Daily Press, "Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled."

The company YogaMatic, which prints user-submitted images on its yoga mats, found itself in Zed's crosshairs with a design of Lord Ganesha submitted by an independent artist. CEO William Cawley told the Daily Press: "Rather than go into a debate with someone who is clearly trouble, it was easier to take it down. I certainly didn't want to argue about it. Apologies to anyone who was upset. That certainly was not the idea."

Most of the yoga mats feature all the designs you might expect on a mat: landscapes, animals, ocean scenes but also Buddha and the Dalai Lama.