On Monday, the singer shared a photo of herself posing on a balcony wearing only a pair of purple satin boxer shorts from her Savage X Fenty fashion brand. She captioned the photo with a quote from the Jamaican artist Popcaan’s song “Naked.”
“When @popcaanmusic said ‘me nuh wan ya wear no lingerie tonight fa me girl,’” she wrote.
In the photo, which appears on her Instagram and Twitter as well as the Savage X Fenty Instagram, she uses her arm to cover her breasts as well as to show off some purple accented jewelry including a bracelet, dangling earrings, a ring and a diamond-studded chain pendant with a carving of the Hindu god Ganesha.
In Hinduism, Ganesha (also known as Ganesh, Ganapati and Vinayaka) is the god of beginnings and the remover of obstacles. Most depictions of Ganesha show the deity with multiple arms and the head of an elephant. It is often synonymous with wisdom, success and intellect.
While some praised the star for her fashion choices, it didn’t take long for people who are faithful to the religion, which is largely practiced in India, to call out the artist for cultural appropriation and disrespecting the Hindu religion.
“Rihanna !! stop using my religion as an aesthetic !! that ganesh figurine at the end of the chain
is a holy and sacred figure for us hindus,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Is no one gonna talk about her wearing a Ganesha necklace? (a Hindu God),” a commenter on Instagram added.
“SHES LITERALLY WEARING A GANESHA NECKLACE WTF MY RELIGION IS NOT YOUR AESTHETIC,” another commenter wrote.
“We are so tired & if we raise voice against this cultural appropriation so we are labelled as hindu extremist. For you all hinduphobics it is just necklace but for us he’s god. Please stop telling us wht is offensive & whts not. Audacity of these ppl ‘hinduphobia doesn’t exist,’” someone else wrote on Twitter.
“Super offensive wearing Ganesha like that. My first god, a holy sentiment to millions of people celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi every year. Sorry RiRi, you disappointed me and others,” another wrote.
“Adding a ganesha locket isnt something that is for the aesthetic. Ganesha is a god worshipped with a lot of devotion and this is culturally appropriating and also hurting the religious sentiments of a lot of Hindus!” an Instagram commenter concluded.
This isn’t the first time that Rihanna has sported the necklace on social media. She’s wearing the necklace while seemingly modeling a see-through purple dress in a photo shared on June 9, 2019.
The backlash over her wearing it in her topless photo comes mere days after the star used her Twitter to try and draw attention to the ongoing civil dispute in India that’s seen tens of thousands of farmers camping on roads around New Delhi in protest of recent bills that they believe will mean the death of farming in the country that are supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.