Cardi B to Kamala Harris: A look at celebs who were blasted for misappropriation of Hindu culture

Cardi B was slammed over the interpretation of Hindu goddess Durga over a promotional footwear shoot on November 11

                            Cardi B to Kamala Harris: A look at celebs who were blasted for misappropriation of Hindu culture
Cradi B and Kamala Harris (Getty Images)

Artists and celebrities have often courted controversies over the issue of cultural appropriation while trying to express themselves creatively. The recent one to join the bandwagon was sensational rapper Cardi B. The rapper was slammed over the interpretation of Hindu goddess Durga over a promotional footwear shoot on November 11. Now the 28-year-old has apologized to her fans in her Instagram story, saying she did not “intend” to hurt the sentiments of her fans.

"When I did the Reebok shoot, the creatives were telling me, 'You gonna represent a goddess, that she represents strength, femininity, and liberation.' And that's something that I love and I'm all about. And I thought that it was dope, but if people think I'm offending their culture or their religion I want to say I'm sorry. That was not my intent. I do not like disrespecting anybody's religion. I wouldn't like people to offend my religion." The racy rapper admitted that she should have done more research on the concept, "I wasn't trying to be disrespectful... I can't change the past, but I'm going to do more research for the future."

Cardi B attends the Warner Music Group Pre-Grammy Party in association with V Magazine on January 25, 2018 in New York City.(Getty Images)

Shoe magazine Footwear News for whom Cardi B did the shoot also apologized on Instagram on November 11. Its handle wrote, "Yesterday we posted content from our exclusive Cardi B cover shoot. One of the images was intended to pay homage to the Hindu goddess Durga, and our intent was to show a powerful woman. However, we realize we were not considerate of certain cultural and religious perspectives and how this could be perceived as deeply offensive. We take full accountability for this oversight and we apologize. It is important we learn from this example and are sensitive to this sort of religious imagery when creative discussions are taking place in the future. Today, we’re releasing another cover from the shoot that was a subscriber-exclusive.” 

Cardi B was lambasted on Instagram after she shared one of the pics from her latest Reebok’s campaign. The picture portrayed her posing as the Hindu goddess Durga. The Grammy award-winning rapper can be seen decked up in an off-shoulder long red outfit with a red shoe from Reebok’s latest collection in her hands. While the rest of the hands, like Hindu goddess Durga, appear behind her back in different positions. This irked fans who allege she was posing in a culturally inappropriate manner.


For the unversed cultural appropriation means as described by Oxford Dictionary, “the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one person or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.”

It is not just Cardi B, many celebrities and even VP-elect Kamala Harris who have drawn flak over this issue.

In July 2020, hit K-Pop band Blackpink landed in soup for using Ganesha, a Hindu deity in their record-breaking music video, ‘How You Like That’. The video that made a YouTube history as the most-viewed music video premiere – taking over from BTS’ ‘Boy With Luv’ was uploaded on June 26 and hit 50 million views in just over 11 hours.
However, what annoyed fans was a scene on the 1-minute-20-second in the video which showed Hindu god Ganesha placed on the floor in the background. The scene features group member Lisa rapping while sitting ona dreamy throne. After being heavily criticized over hurting sentiments of Hindus, Blackpink label YG Entertainment has since removed the controversial scene and replaced Ganesha with an item that alludes to a cylindrical black gas tank. 


Kamala Harris
The heat of United States Presidential elections was just building in October when constant trolling, blame game and Twitter trends started to run rife about key election players. This happened when Kamala's niece Meena Harris shared an artwork depicting Kamala’s face morphed on Goddess Durga’s face who was killing Donald Trump. The picture also had President-elect Biden as a lion which has religious connotations and is revered as the sitting vehicle of Durga. This drew backlash from netizens over hurting Hindu sentiments, making Meena remove the picture. Of the many tweets, one read, “Dear Meena Harris and Kamala Harris if you think you are going to win Hindu votes by mocking us, think again. This image is highly offensive and insulting to Hindus. Our Divinities are NOT cultural curios for you to mock and trivialise. And you delete without an apology?” 


Katy Perry
Pop music icon Katy Perry who reportedly has a tryst with India landed in hot waters on the issue of cultural appropriation in 2017. The ‘I Kissed A Girl’ singer posted a picture of Goddess Kaali in a fierce avatar and captioned it as “Current Mood", on Instagram. This was not received well by some fans who slammed her for using the goddess image in her traditional furious and aggressive avatar. "Don't disrespect the Indian Goddess... This can't be called as mood.. Have some values. Just delete this picture. (No hate for her)," one person wrote.


DJ Carly O
South African DJ who claims to be a self-confessed follower of goddess Kaali dressed up like goddess Kaali on November 1, 2019, during Halloween. She posted a picture on her Instagram captioned as, “Kaali O - I needed something to draw strength from after the past few days, my favorite goddess #protector #destroyer #goddess #mother #strength #womenpower #tribute @djleewhy.” 

The pictures show her in blue attire embellished with skull garland, crown, and metallic skull with headphones in hand. The picture sparked fury as many people flogged the Dj for dressing up as the goddess. As per reports comments like “My religion is not your Halloween costume,” splashed on her Insta post for which the comment section is deactivated for now.

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