The matter arose recently at Bond Street Chocolate, a bite-size East Village boutique that traffics in intricately detailed figurines of Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh.
Last week, an organization called Universal Society of Hinduism issued a demand: “Upset Hindus urge withdrawal of Lord Ganesh-shaped edible chocolate,” read the society’s Feb. 1 news release.
The owner of the store, Lynda Stern, was puzzled. For more than five years, she has been selling the gold-dusted Ganesh and his shelfmates, beside passion fruit bonbons and chocolate-coated wasabi peas, with barely a whiff of controversy.
In the release, the society’s president, Rajan Zed, wrote that Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, was “highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshiped in temples or home shrines and not to be eaten casually.” The chocolate statues, he wrote, were an insult to Hindus.
Stern, whose 3-inch-tall Ganesh sells for $15, has no intention of desisting.
“All spiritual icons are treated equally in my shop,” she said, “with honor and respect to the religion.”