Upset Hindus are urging Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) to withdraw from hosting “Hindu Times” play (August 20-21), which they feel is “highly inappropriate” as it reportedly trivializes immensely revered Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Lakshmi.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely or dragged around unnecessarily through the streets of Dundee reportedly looking for booze and breaking into a closed shop for it.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that renowned publicly funded charity like EIF should not be in the business of sacrilege, blatantly belittling “other” traditions and ridiculing entire communities. He indicated that community organization EIF, which claims itself as “world class cultural event”, should have shown some maturity while okaying such a play, and urged EIF to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.
Rajan Zed suggested EIF Board Chair Keith Skeoch, Royal Patron HRH The Earl of Wessex, Chief Executive Fergus Linehan, Executive Director Francesca Hegyi to re-evaluate its systems and procedures and send its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future. EIF could do better than this to serve the diverse area communities.
Zed also urged EIF funders and partners like City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Government, British Council, UK Government, Culture Ireland, University of Edinburgh, Australian High Commission, Austrian Cultural Forum, Canada, Germany Consulate General, Edinburgh Napier University, etc.; to rethink about their relationship with EIF if it continued to trivialize the beliefs of “others”.
Rajan Zed indicated that Brahma-Vishnu-Lakshmi were divine and entertainment companies were welcome to create projects about/around them showing their true depiction as mentioned in the Hindu scriptures (no Hindu scripture mentions their visit to Dundee). Inappropriately reimagining Hindu deities/concepts/scriptures/symbols/icons and redefining Hinduism for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the feelings of devotees.
Zed stated that 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 adherents.
Besides hurting the sentiments, any misrepresentation created confusion among non-Hindus about Hinduism. Insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols; Rajan Zed remarked.
Zed further said that Hindus welcomed entertainment world to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning it for personal agendas. Attempts at distorting of Hindu gods and goddesses would be slighting of ancient Hindu traditions. He or other Hindu scholars would gladly help if industry needed any assistance in exploring Hinduism, Zed added.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. No faith, larger or smaller, should be mishandled, Rajan Zed noted.
According to reports, Lakshmi and Brahma use F-words in the play. “Hindu Times” review in The Guardian stated: “Gods Vishnu, Lakshmi and Brahma become street-smart hedonists…”.
EIF; established in 1947 and which showcases dance, opera, music, theatre, etc.; is being held this year in Edinburgh from August 07 to 29. “Hindu Times”; written by Jaimini Jethwa and directed by Caitlin Skinner; has been scheduled at The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh.