Hindus have expressed serious concern at the trivialization of their highly revered goddesses in an ad campaign highlighting domestic violence which showed them battered and bruised.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that there was no denying the fact that domestic violence in India was endemic and widespread but there was no need to mis-portray Hindu goddesses whom Hindus worshipped regularly. This denigration was hurtful for the devotees, Zed added.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that they strongly condemned domestic violence. But domestic violence was a worldwide phenomenon and was prevalent among followers of all religions and it was unfair to just point fingers only at Hinduism as this campaign was depicting only Hindu goddesses.
London headquartered charity Save the Children, one of whose units reportedly commissioned this ad campaign, aims to “build partnerships”. Is this the Save the Children way to “build partnerships” with a billion-strong religion by denigrating their goddesses? Rajan Zed asked.
Zed noted that it was appalling and total misrepresentation to show images of goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati apparently as battered and scarred victims of domestic abuse with bloody lips, cuts on faces and black eyes. Accompanying text stated: Tomorrow, it seems like no woman shall be spared. Not even the ones we pray to.
Rajan Zed urged Board Chair Charles Perrin and CEO Jasmine Whitbread of Save the Children to apologize for this trivialization of Hindu goddesses.
Zed further said that world, including India, needed to do serious soul searching on the treatment of women as the recent World Health Organization (WHO) report stated that violence affected over one third of all women globally. World needed to provide safer non-violent environment for women to go about their daily lives.
Society should look inward and address the factors which condoned violence against women. Men and women were equal in the eyes of God and they should be equal partners in the human society also, Rajan Zed noted. We all, men and women, deserved a violence-free life, Zed said.
Quoting scriptures, Zed pointed out that ancient Manusmriti said: “Where women are revered, there the gods are pleased; where they are not, no rite will yield any fruit.” Number of Rig-Veda (oldest existing scripture of mankind) hymns were said to be composed by women, and Aditi, who was sometimes referred as “mother of the gods”, found mention in Rig-Veda as a goddess.