Hindu Statesman Calls Pharrell x Adidas Holi Collection ‘Highly Insensitive’

Pharrell’s latest venture is receiving backlash.

Pharrell Williams and adidas Originals’ “Hu Holi” collection, a footwear and apparel range featuring bright colors inspired by the Hindu tradition of Holi, is now under fire for misuse of religious symbolism.

The collaborators used visual elements from the spiritual Hindu festival also known as the “festival of colors” celebrated in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and countries with large Indian subcontinent diaspora populations. The collection includes the “Powder Dye” capsule, the Hu Holi adicolor, and the Hu Holi Blank Canvas capsules as a part of Williams’ four apparel styles and five variations of footwear with adidas.

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Adidas‘ recent promo video of Pharrell’s first trip to India to participate in his first Holi celebration, first spawned criticism online.

Now, Hindu president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, is urging Pharrell and adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted to issue an apology and rename their “Holi” collection “which many Hindus felt were highly insensitive as religious festival of Holi was linked to various deities,” Zed said in a written statement posted to his website.

“Pharrell Williams and Adidas should have done some home work before taking Hinduism concepts frivolously and using these to make a fashion statement and sell shoes for mercantile greed, some of which contain leather,” Zed added. “Inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts or symbols or imagery for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it might be painful to many devotees. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt many followers.”

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Earlier this month, Amazon took down stockings that featured an image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha from its website after Zed called the product “highly inappropriate.”

Neither Pharrell nor adidas has issued statements.

Ivie Ani

Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani

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Ivie Ani

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