Rihanna is under fire from fans for cultural appropriation after posting a topless image of herself wearing a pendant depicting the Hindu god Ganesha.
The photo, which the star posted to Instagram on Tuesday, sees the singer and makeup mogul in a pair of lavender satin boxers by her lingerie label, Savage X Fenty, dripping with matching jewels including statement earrings and beaded necklace.
But what appears to be a diamond-studded carving of the elephant-headed deity, who represents wisdom and respect, has been slammed as “disrespectful” by followers.
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“Disrespectful to wear Ganesha like this. As a fan for 16 years not impressed,” another said.
“Can we stop sexualising 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.”
The criticism extended to Twitter, where people have labelled the snap “offensive,” “insulting” and “unacceptable”.
It comes just weeks after Rihanna outraged the Indian government after tweeting her support for thousands of farmers involved in violent protests in New Delhi.
The pop singer, who has more than 101 million followers, tweeted, “why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest” linking to a news article about internet access being cut in the capital. She was joined by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, who said she stood “in solidarity with” the protesters.
India’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the star, calling the comments from foreign celebrities irresponsible.
“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” the ministry wrote.
A number of high profile Indian cricketers slammed the comments.
“India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants,” Sachin Tendulkar, a former international cricketer said.
“We don’t need an outsider poking her nose in our internal matters,” Pragyan Ojha, another Indian former cricketer wrote in reply to Rihanna.
Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut said the protesting farmers were “terrorists” and called Rihanna a “fool”.
In response to her latest controversy, some fans have pointed out that it isn’t the first time the star has been accused of cultural appropriation.
In a separate incident last year, Rihanna was forced to apologise to the Muslim community for using a song that sampled a recitation from Islam’s sacred hadith for her Savage X Fenty fashion show.
In 2019, the singer similarly found herself at the centre of a cultural appropriation scandal after posing in Chinese clothing and accessories on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar China.