Rihanna has been accused of cultural appropriation on social media after wearing a necklace which depicts the Hindu god Ganesh.
The musician-cum-mogul shared a topless photo of herself on Instagram earlier this week in which she wears a pair of lilac-coloured, satin Savage X Fenty boxer shorts.
In the caption to the photo, the star quotes Jamaican artist Popcaan’s ‘Naked’ lyrics which read: ‘Me nuh wan ya wear no lingerie tonight fa me girl’. The photograph was also shared on the Savage x Fenty Instagram account.
In the photo, Rihanna accessorised her unisex underwear – which is part of the Savage X Fenty’s Valentine capsule collection – with statement bracelets, drop earrings and a large, diamond-studded chain pendant which Twitter users claim depicts Ganesh.
Ganesh (also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka) is a Hindu God who is believed to be the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles, presenting fortune and success.
While several social media praised the singer for her ensemble, some Twitter users voiced their frustration over the singer wearing a necklace that they believe depicts the religious figure. ELLE UK has reached out to Savage x Fenty for comment.
One fan wrote: ‘I love u but the ganesha necklace really [sic].’ Another added: ‘Rihanna !! stop using my religion as an aesthetic !! that Ganesh figurine at the end of the chain 🙁 is a holy and sacred figure for us Hindus. [sic]’
One Twitter user noted: ‘Super offensive wearing Ganesha like that. My first god, a holy sentiment to millions of people celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi every year. Sorry RiRi, you disappointed me and others [sic].’
Another noted that ‘for someone who doesn’t understand the religious sentiments of wearing a ganesha necklace, @rihanna wearing it is cultural appropriation! [sic]’
‘This is really disrespectful to our religion,’ one added.
I love u but the ganesha necklace really 🙄
— 🌴🌊🧘🏽♀️🐬🍃 (@solodolo4L) February 15, 2021
rihanna !! stop using my religion as an aesthetic !! that ganesh figurine at the end of the chain 🙁 is a holy and sacred figure for us hindus
— ً kani | HOBI BIRTH IN FEW HOURS!! (@09S00B) February 15, 2021
Super offensive wearing Ganesha like that. My first god, a holy sentiment to millions of people celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi every year. Sorry RiRi, you disappointed me and others.
— daakkuuu (@Presenjeet26) February 15, 2021
Well surely he never said that and any religion or human can worship ganesha but for someone who doesn’t understand the religious sentiments of wearing a ganesha necklace, @rihanna wearing it is cultural appropriation!
— breakingsterotypes (@dhara16) February 16, 2021
It appears this isn’t the first time the singer has worn the necklace, posing with it around her neck on Instagram in 2019, too.
In October last year, Rihanna faced a backlash for religious appropriation and issued an apology for the inclusion of London producer Coucou Chloe’s controversial track ‘Doom’ in the her Savage X Fenty Vol.2 show.
The hadith – a record of the words or actions of the Prophet Muhammad in the Islamic faith – was originally included in a dance track during a lingerie performance. After several members of the Muslim community pointed out the sacred nature of the text and their disappointment over its use in the show, Rihanna took to her Instagram Stories to apologise for the ‘mistake’.
‘I do not play with any kind of disrespect toward God or any religion and therefore the use of the song in our project was completely irresponsible,’ an excerpt of her statement read. Coucou Chloe also issued an apology and took on ‘full responsibility’ for her lack of research of its lyrics.
I want to deeply apologize for the offence caused by the vocal samples used in my song ‘DOOM’. The song was created using samples from Baile Funk tracks I found online. At the time, I was not aware that these samples used text from an Islamic Hadith. 1/2
— COUCOU CHLOE (@coucou_chloe) October 5, 2020
The backlash levied at Rihanna comes not long after she tweeted about the ongoing civil dispute in India between farmers and the Indian government. The BBC reports that farmers have been protesting since August against three farm laws proposed by the government and several farmers have lost their lives during the ongoing demonstrations.
On February 2, Rihanna retweeted a CNN article which reported on an internet service blockage, imposed by the Department of Information and Public Relations of Haryana.
Following their posts about the protests, both Thunberg and Rihanna received criticism from some in India, with the country’s ministry of external affairs releasing a statement criticising ‘celebrities and others’ for their ‘neither accurate nor responsible’ comments, reports the BBC.
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