The singer Rihanna has angered the Hindu community with a “disrespectful” Instagram picture in which she wears a diamond-studded pendant featuring the Hindu god Ganesha.
Commenters on her Instagram account have called the wearing of the likeness of the god around her neck cultural appropriation.
“You’re wearing a deity necklace and a Murthi [image of a deity] of my culture that’s already been culturally appropriated enough,” wrote one commenter. “How is this OK when a person has more than enough resources to at least find out the meaning and significance of the chains and the pendant around their neck?”
“I hope she returns the necklace because she clearly doesn’t know how to wear it because it’s mad disrespectful,” wrote another. Traditionally, Ganesha represents success and wisdom and statues and paintings of him are widely available in India.
Another in the comments section suggested she was wearing it on purpose. “This ain’t coincidence … this is after she supported that farmer protest,” wrote one.
Earlier this month the singer angered the Indian government by tweeting about the farmers’ protests taking place there. The government replied condemning the “sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others”.
It’s not the first time Rihanna has been accused of cultural appropriation and specifically orientalism. In October the singer apologised for using a song that sampled Islamic text in her Savage X Fenty fashion show. The song Doom by Coucou Chloe included a remixed verse from the Hadith (a narrative record of the sayings or customs of the prophet Muhammad and his companions) and the text is considered sacred. Rihanna said it was an “honest, yet careless mistake”. She was also criticised for her Chinoiserie style of dress and makeup in the Princess of China video with Coldplay in 2012.
The Guardian has contacted Rihanna for comment.