Upset Hindus urge City-owned Birmingham Museum to withdraw Lord Ganesh doll from sale & apologize

Upset Hindus are urging Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, Alabama) to immediately withdraw from its shop and online the String Doll featuring Hindu deity Lord Ganesh, calling it highly inappropriate.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Lord Ganesh was greatly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely or used as a key chain, etc. Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for mercantile or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees, Zed added.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) Director Dr. Graham C. Boettcher to offer a formal apology, besides withdrawing Ganesh String Doll from Museum Shop and website. He also urged Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin and Birmingham City Council President Wardine Towers Alexander to look into this issue.

BMA, “one of the finest regional museums in the United States” and owned by City of Birmingham, should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege and belittling sacred Hindu deities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deity to be treated like this; Rajan Zed indicated.

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. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled; Zed noted.

Moreover, it was saddening for the devotees to see Lord Ganesh reduced as a doll under the mercy and control of the owner, while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities; Rajan Zed pointed out.

Zed further said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and 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 were painful for the followers.

Rajan Zed was of the view that insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

Ganesh String Doll was priced at BMA Shop online at $11.

Founded 1951, 180,000 gross square feet BMA, “houses a diverse collection of more than 27,000 paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and decorative arts dating from ancient to modern times”. Dr. Anne Forschler-Tarrasch is the Chief Curator

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