The photo, which appeared on her Twitter and Instagram accounts Tuesday, shows the singer in a pair of lavender satin boxers by her lingerie label, Savage X Fenty. Among her matching purple jewels are a bracelet, a large pair of earrings and what appears to be a diamond-studded carving of the elephant-headed deity — a move branded “disrespectful” by some Hindus and other social media users in India.
“You’re wearing a deity necklace and a Murthi (image of a deity) of my culture that’s already been culturally appropriated enough in the past few years,” read one reply to the post, liked over 5,000 times on Instagram. “How is this okay when a person has more than enough resources to at least find out the meaning and significance of the chains and pendant around their neck?”
“Can we stop sexualizing people’s religion for clout,” read another comment. “I just don’t understand the purpose of having a necklace with lord Ganesh as part of a lingerie campaign.” Another user, meanwhile, wrote: “Our culture is not your costume.”
Not all of the comments expressed outraged, with one user stating: “I’m fine with you wearing this as long as you respect Hinduism.” Others complimented the star’s style without referencing the controversial pendant.
On Rihanna’s Twitter account, the image has amassed over 40,000 retweets. Savage X Fenty also posted the photo to Instagram, where it has accrued over 345,000 likes, alongside the caption, “Stay up off my Instagram, pure temptation.”
The move drew the ire of India’s government, which issued a statement condemning “sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others.”
A number of commentators were quick to link Rihanna’s decision to wear a Ganesha pendant to her stance on the protests. Lawmaker Ram Kadam, a member of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), suggested that she had now discredited her involvement in the matter.
Top image: Rihanna pictured at the Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 2 in October 2020.
CNN – CNN INTERNATIONAL