BBC apologizes for calling Hindu festival Holi ‘filthy’

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has apologized for labeling Hindu festival of Holi as “filthy festival”, which had upset the Hindus worldwide. In an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, BBC News’ Editor On Demand Mark Barlex wrote: “…we apologise for any offence that was caused.”

BBC News website posted a short video on March 29 under its “week’s weird videos” in “Newsbeat’s odd box” showing youth playing Holi in Utah (USA) and titled the segment as “Filthy festival”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, had complained to BBC saying that terming the “festival of color” celebrated by Hindus and others worldwide as “filthy” was very insensitive and belittling of the entire community.

Admitting “original headline was an error” and saying “we are sorry”, Barlex informed in the email that they have changed the headline to “Festival of colour”. I understand your concern that the use of the word “filthy” in our headline, in the context of this festival, could offend some audiences, Barlex added.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended BBC for showing maturity and responsibility in immediately removing the inappropriate terminology used for the Hindu festival Holi, which hurt the feelings of one billion Hindus spread around the world. It was a “step in the right direction”, he added.

Zed suggested BBC to provide training to their editorial staff in world religions as religion was powerful and complex and world was becoming increasingly diverse. Stereotypes, prejudices and caricatures passed on to us from previous generations needed to go. Journalism should take religion more seriously, help us build interconnections and create harmony instead of adding to religious conflict, confusion and bigotry.

Rajan Zed pointed out in his earlier complaint that although under its “our values”, BBC claimed “we respect each other and celebrate our diversity”, but describing a festival of world’s oldest religion as “filthy” was highly “disrespectful”. Was calling Holi “filthy” BBC’s way of educating and informing the world correctly; whose “mission” was listed as: “to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain”? Zed had asked.

Founded in 1922, headquartered in Westminster London, and established under the Royal Charter; world’s largest broadcaster BBC (autonomous public service broadcaster) has been blamed in the past for racism, imperialist stance, Indophobic bias, anti-Hindu bigotry, anti-American bias, etc. Mark Thompson is BBC Director-General, Helen Boaden is Director of BBC News, and Lord Patten of Barnes and Diane Coyle are Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of BBC Trustees.

Joie de vivre festival of Holi welcomes the beginning of spring and starts about ten days before the full moon of Phalguna. The ceremonies include the lighting of the bonfires, during which all evils are symbolically burnt. Holi also commemorates the frolics of youthful Lord Krishna; celebrates the death of demoness Putana, burning of demoness Holika, and destruction of Kama by Shiva. Holi fell on March eight this year.

Webster’s New World Dictionary describes “filthy” as “full of filth, disgustingly foul; grossly obscene; morally vicious or corrupt”.

Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

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