Upset Hindus urge withdrawal of goddess Kali mural from Brooklyn Museum


Hindus are upset over “inappropriate” portrayal of Hindu goddess Kali in a mural at Brooklyn Museum (New York).

This 60-foot mixed-media goddess Kali wall mural is part of recently opened “Eyes of Time” exhibition at Brooklyn Museum which is scheduled till July 12.  It shows Kali with three legs, three breasts and six arms. Its face is a clock with no actual time.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that goddess Kali was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects on museum walls. Such absurd depiction of goddess Kali with no scriptural backing was hurtful to the devotees.

Such trivialization of goddess Kali was disturbing to the devotees world over, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated and urged Brooklyn Museum to withdraw it. Zed also asked Museum’s Director Arnold L. Lehman to tender a formal public apology.

Rajan Zed stressed that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Museums should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, Zed added.

Hindus welcomed museums and artists to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not just for indecorous showing of Hindu symbols and concepts to advance their selfish agenda. Casual flirting sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols and hurting the devotees, Zed pointed out.

Rajan Zed noted that Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. No faith, larger or smaller, should be ridiculed at; Zed said and added that if museums needed any assistance about Hinduism, he or other Hindu scholars would be glad to help.

Goddess Kali, who personifies Shakti or divine energy and considered the goddess of time and change, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

Museum seems to have three Kali paintings in its permanent collection, which includes “Siddha Lakhsmi with Kali” painting from 1600s. This exhibition is organized by Assistant Curator Saisha M. Grayson.

The Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest and largest art museums in USA, whose roots extend back to 1823. Its permanent collection includes “ancient Egyptian masterpieces, African art, European painting, decorative arts, period rooms, and contemporary art”. Elizabeth A. Sackler is Museum’s Board of Trustees Chair while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio serves on its Executive Committee as Ex-Officio.


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