Australians are known for a cheeky sense of humor, but I’ll bet they didn’t expect it to offend India’s religious right. Lisa Burke earned the ire of Hindus when she featured the Indian religion’s gods Ganesha and Lakshmi on her latest Lisa Blue swimsuits.
Models donned the swimsuits at a recent Australian Fashion Week show in Sydney. The display prompted protests from right-wing Hindu group Shiv Sena and the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, who say the swimwear is disrespectful of their culture. They’ve retaliated by burning images of the Aussie flag at organized protests in Hyderabad and Amritsar.
It’s interesting that the Indians are up in arms now, despite the prevalent use of these images throughout Western fashion. We haven’t seen Hindu groups taking yoga lovers or Gwen Stefani to task, have we?
Part of the difference must come from the swimsuits, which while conservative by Western standards still show plenty of skin. But Hitha Prabhakar, a retail analyst, says timing may also be an issue. She told Fashionista that India is in the midst of a cultural identity crisis.
“Much of India is embracing Western norms now, and conservative communities are grappling with these changes. The protests seem to be a manifestation of that.“
Australian swimsuit designer Lisa Burke has been swift to apologize and halt production on the swimsuits, but no doubt the protests will still harm her business abroad. Do you think the Hindu religious groups have overreacted, or are swimsuits bearing religious images in bad taste?
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