Indians are known to be touchy about religion. And when it comes to adaptive representations of Hindu gods and goddesses in pop-culture, the bar is very high. That’s what American rapper Cardi B seems to be finding out after she recently donned the avatar of the Hindu Goddess Durga to sell a pair of sneakers.
On November 13, US-based rapper Cardi B forayed into the shoe market with the launch of her first line of sneakers called the ‘Club C Cardi sneaker’ collection. The news was shared on Instagram’s ‘Foot Wear News’ page along with an image of Cardi B is a gorgeous Georges Hobeika dress with a matching scarlet shoe in her hands.
But what catches the eyes are not just her own two hands clasping the sneakers but the eight other arms that are surrounding the rapper. The caption reads that the photo is meant as a homage to “Durga, the Hindu goddess, whose symbols of protection and inner strength resonate as much in modern times as they have through the centuries".
The caption further compares Cardi B to Durga, stating that just like the deity, she too is “a dominant female voice at a critical time".
The advertisement did not sit well with many observers and social media users in India who have been panning the rapper for allegedly causing disrespect to the Hindu religion. While many slammed the rapper for depicting the deity with a shoe in her hand (shoes are usually considered ‘unholy’ and not allowed near Hindu temples and goddesses).
Others simply outraged against the rapper choosing to depict herself as Durga in Western attire rather than her traditional clothing. Many such comments, of course, bordered on sexism and shaming.
Yet others felt offended by the fact that the rapper used a Hindu god to sell sneakers, essentially commodifying an item of faith.
So some people are saying Cardi B is paying homeage to our hindu goddess Durga. As a hindu, I want to say that, durga maa is never depicted bare bodied. Secondly it is prohibited to wear shoes in a temple and this woman is holding a shoe on her hand depicting goddess Durga? pic.twitter.com/Dr45M4azmO
— Isha⸆⸉ ᴺᴹ (Rt pinned pls) (@onlytearskaty) November 11, 2020
Cardi b did not pay “homage” to the Hindu goddess Durga by holding a shoe in her hand, this is plain disrespect and in no way cultural appreciation. she can’t getaway with this without addressing and apologizing for mocking our culture pic.twitter.com/ZLVcz0mBlB— Hana (@MissAmericHANA) November 11, 2020
Are you fcking kidding me??? Not cardi b comparing herself to goddess Durga wtf is wrong with these?? Till wnen the tf these people gonna use god's as their aesthetics pic.twitter.com/bautI3fcxo— BEST THING THAT HAPPENED ON EXO PLANET (@kaiyeolsite) November 11, 2020
Cardi B using Durga Maa to sell trainers?? When are people gonna realise our gods and goddesses aren’t there to be mimicked…— Geetaॐ (@GeetaChelseaFC) November 11, 2020
This is not the first time that the conservative Hindu community has objected the use of Hindu symbols, motifs, and deities by international brands and marketers.
The outrage comes even amid reports of Amazon pulling doormats with the word ‘Om’ from their website after Hindus outraged against the commodity.