- Many Hindus explode on Twitter, accusing the pop icon of shaming and insulting their religion for publicity.
A few weeks after expressing solidarity against protesting Indian farmers and condemnation from the Indian government, international pop icon Rihanna has found herself caught in the eye of the storm, once again.
This time it’s a photo she posted on her social media handles. In what can be charitably described as a culturally insensitive, if not an outrageous move, the 32-year-old is dressed in a pair of purple Savage X Fenty boxers, and nothing else, except a diamond-studded Lord Ganesha pendant adorning her topless torso. The caption that followed, simply reads: “when @popcaanmusic said ‘me nuh wan ya wear no lingerie tonight fa me girl.”
And that’s when a second Twitter storm broke out. Her followers on Twitter and Instagram called her out for shaming and insulting their religion for her publicity, with #ShameOnRihanna, trending on twitter.
“Soo are we gonna talk about the fact that Rihanna is wearing a Ganesha necklace and is once again disrespecting Hinduism??? My religion is not an aesthetic,” tweeted a user.
Another user wrote about losing respect for Rihanna. “I lost all my respect for Rihanna,” she wrote. “How can you wear the Ganesha necklace and think it’s ok to pose like that? Lol.”
“Your religion belief and my religion a tool for your publicity. Shame on such hypocrisy.” one user wrote. While another tweet criticized her for being “so out of line, using our sentimental values as an accessory.”
BJP leader Ram Kadam joined the critics. “It’s appalling to see how @Rihanna shamefully mocks our beloved Hindu God #Ganesha. This exposes how #Rihanna has no idea or respect for Indian culture, tradition and our issues here. Hopefully, at least now @RahulGandhi and other Congress leaders will stop taking help from her”, he wrote.
She faced a similar backlash on Instagram. “You’re wearing a deity necklace and a Murthi of my culture that’s already been culturally appropriated enough in the past few years,” one post read.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that “not all of the comments expressed outraged.” It quoted a Twitter user saying: “I’m fine with you wearing this as long as you respect Hinduism.” However, Rihanna’s tweet was retweeted 44,000 times, and had 288,367 likes. Similarly, a photo posted on Instagram by Savage X Fenty received over 354,631 likes.
In her controversial tweet supporting Indian famers, Rihanna wrote; “[W]hy aren’t we talking about this?!” She posted a CNN story reporting internet censorship amid the conflict. Her tweet led to an outburst of support for the farmers and celebrities like environmental activist Greta Thunberg, actress Susan Sarandon, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, among others.
All these celebrities and activists faced the ire of Modi supporters. Posters of Rihanna, Thunberg and Harris were burned and their support was condemned by Indian celebrities. Even India’s Ministry of External Affairs, issued a statement urging people to ascertain facts before rushing to comment on the matter. “Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken. The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”
Bhargavi Kulkarni has been a journalist for nearly two decades. She has a degree in English literature and French. She is also an adventure sport enthusiast, and in her free time, she likes to cook, bake, bike and hike.