Upset Hindus are urging Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), “one of the premier art museums in the United States”, to immediately withdraw Lord Ganesha finger puppet from sale; calling it highly inappropriate.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be manipulated by finger. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged DIA Director-President-CEO Salvador Salort-Pons and Board Chairman Eugene A. Gargaro Junior to offer a formal apology, besides withdrawing Lord Ganesha finger puppet from its Museum Shop.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled; Rajan Zed noted.
Moreover, it was saddening for the devotees to see Lord Ganesha reduced as a finger puppet under the mercy and control of the owner; while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities; Zed indicated.
Although one of the goals of DIA was to “be relevant to a broad and diverse audience” by 2021, but it seemed that Museum executives themselves needed some urgent cultural/religious sensitivity training to meet this goal; Rajan Zed pointed out.
An institution like DIA, “supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts”, should not be in the business of trivializing highly venerated deity, Zed added.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. There are about three million Hindus in USA; and a substantial number of them reside/work in the city of Detroit and the counties of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb.
DIA, founded 1885, covers 658,000 square feet that includes over 100 galleries. Its collection of over 65,000 works is claimed to be “among the top six in the United States”; and includes Vincent van Gogh's “Self-Portrait” (1887) and Diego Rivera's “Detroit Industry” murals.
DIA Museum Shop claims to feature “merchandise inspired by the collection” of DIA. Lord Ganesha finger puppet was priced at $6.95 at its website.