Hindus have urged the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem (Massachusetts, USA) to remove the Lord Ganesha painting from its current “Painting in India” exhibition, terming it as “disrespectful and inappropriate”.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that “Ganapati the Warrior” painting in “Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after Independence” exhibition was quite disrespectful as Hindu devotees world over were not used to this kind of depiction of Lord Ganesha, a highly revered deity worshipped by Hindus.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, requested Dan L. Monroe, Gail von Metzsch and Robert N. Shapiro; Museum’s Director, Overseers Chair and Trustees President respectively; to remove “Ganapati the Warrior” from the exhibit and replace it with more appropriate depiction of Lord Ganesha.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Lord Ganesha was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects or other agenda. Such absurd depiction of Lord Ganesha was hurtful to the devotees.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed argued.
Rajan Zed further said that such trivialization of Lord Ganesha was disturbing to Hindus. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the devotees, Zed added.
This “Painting in India” exhibition; of which this “pen, ink, pastel, and lacquer on paper” image of Lord Ganesha is one of the exhibits; is on display till April 21. It reportedly contains about 70 works by 23 leading artists. Susan Bean is Guest Curator.
Founded in 1799, this “museum of international art and culture” whose mission is to “increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, engage the mind, and stimulate the senses”, has one gallery dedicated to India’s art. Its collections include 1.8 million works, including the most important collection of contemporary Indian art outside of India, and its campus features 22 historic properties. Tina Ambani, former Bollywood star and wife of billionaire businessman Anil Ambani, is one of the Trustees.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.