Louis Vuitton yoga mat made of leather draws Hindu activist’s complaint

A Hindu activist is calling on luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton to pull a yoga mat made partly from cowhide leather, calling it “hugely insensitive.” (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File)
A Hindu activist is calling on luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton to pull a yoga mat made partly from cowhide leather, calling it “hugely insensitive.” (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File)

Credit: Jacques Brinon

Credit: Jacques Brinon

BOSTON — A Hindu activist is calling on luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton to pull a yoga mat made partly from cowhide leather, calling it “hugely insensitive.”

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said in a statement Tuesday the mat is “highly inappropriate” to practicing Hindus, who regard cows as sacred symbols of life.

Wire coverage
We pay for the right to publish content from The Associated Press because we think it's important to help you stay up to date on national and world news. Our staff typically compiles these reports, adding supplementary information from other news sources to emphasize angles that are important to our readers.

“The scenario of yoga — a profound, sacred and ancient discipline introduced and nourished by Hinduism — being performed on a mat made from a killed cow is painful,” Zed said.

Paris-based Louis Vuitton did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The company’s yoga mat, made mostly of canvas with leather details and a cowhide carrying strap, retails for $2,390 online.

“The scenario of yoga — a profound, sacred and ancient discipline introduced and nourished by Hinduism — being performed on a mat made from a killed cow is painful.”

- Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism

In an email to the AP, Zed called on Louis Vuitton executives to apologize and adhere to its corporate code of conduct, which includes commitments to ethical and social responsibility. The company “should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, mocking serious spiritual practices and ridiculing entire communities,” he said.

The Universal Society of Hinduism, which is based in Reno, Nevada, has led several recent campaigns targeting what it considers the commercial misuse of sacred symbols.

Zed’s organization is part of an interfaith coalition that’s recently called on Anheuser-Busch InBev to rename its Brahma beer line — which shares its name with a Hindu god but isn’t named for the deity, the beer giant says — and also urged nightclubs to stop using sacred Buddhist and Hindu imagery as decor.

In August, online home goods giant Wayfair pulled a towel depicting the Hindu deity Lord Ganesha after the coalition objected.

In Other News