East Village Chocolate Shop Sparks Controversy With Edible Lord Ganesh Figurine

February 9, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

A chocolate shop in the East Village that sells exquisite foil-wrapped chocolate statues of religious figures has sparked controversy among Hindus, Buddhists and Catholics reports the New York Times. The figurines include Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Notably, the collection does not include the Prophet Mohammad.

Bond Street Chocolate storeowner Lynda Stern was recently asked to discontinue her Lord Ganesh chocolate by Universal Society of Hinduism president Rajan Zed. In a press release, Zed stated, “Upset Hindus urge withdrawal of Lord Ganesh-shaped edible chocolate.”

But the issue isn’t so clear-cut. When the Times consulted the Queens-based Hindu Temple Society of North America, president Uma Mysorekar said, “We Hindus look at the universe as eternal and god almighty as one…so we would not say that the lord resides only in that little piece of chocolate. It’s more like when they eat it, the lord comes back to us — he is within us.”

Buddhist and Catholic communities are similarly conflicted about whether or not it is okay to sell food in the mold of a religious figure. Buddhist lama Hun Lye said that some may find it “disrespectful,” but that Buddhist text also “says that those who get upset when the Buddha is being insulted should not call themselves disciples of the Buddha.”

For her part, Stern has dismissed the criticism, saying, “All spiritual icons are treated equally in my shop…with honor and respect to the religion.”

(Photo: Bond Street Chocolate)