September 20, 2011

Australian play offends Hindus

by Jan Harris

A play featuring the Hindu god Ganesh has already caused offence to followers of Hinduism, even though it has not yet been staged.

‘Ganesh Versus the Third Reich’ will premiere at the Melbourne Festival on 29 September.

Ganesh, who is revered as the remover of obstacles, is traditionally represented with the head of an elephant and is revered by Jains and Buddhists as well as by Hindus.

In the comedy play he travels through Germany to reclaim the swastika, the symbol of the sun and a sacred symbol of good luck to Hindus.

Yadu Singh, president of the Council of Indian Australians, claims the play’s storyline pokes fun at the Hindu system of belief.

However the play’s producers claim they have been careful to depict Ganesh and the Hindu culture respectfully.

“It is not right to use religious symbols, from any religion, in comedy or as a joke, it’s offensive, insulting and inappropriate,” Mr Singh said.

Rajan Zed, the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, has also expressed concern that Lord Ganesh was being made a ‘laughing stock’ for the purposes of theatre.

The controversy follows the use of an image of the goddess Laksmi on swimwear in May.

The image was used by fashion designer Lisa Burke at Australian Fashion Week, appearing across the front and along the rear of a Lisa Blue bikini.

The swimsuit design was subsequently withdrawn from production and sale.

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