Clarification: “Ganesh versus the third Reich” is not an issue between Australia and India.

A report in The Age newspaper  http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/hindus-want-to-ban-play-that-has-ganesh-reclaim-swastika-from-germany-20110926-1ktkb.html   says, quoting me “Indians saw the play, Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, as part of a campaign of denigration against them by Australians, Dr Singh said yesterday”.

I wish to clarify this as it is not reflecting my correct views. It is an incorrect statement.

The issue involving this play are obviously not the issue between two nations.  This is an issue between followers of Hinduism and Back to Back theatre, which is doing this play in Malthouse theatre, as a part of Melbourne Festival.

This issue is also not between the people of India or Hindus, and Australian people.

It is a matter only between the organisers of this play and us, who feel that the narratives in the publicity material is inappropriate.

I wish to clarify that a vast majority of Australian people are decent, fair-minded and great people, who have no interest in doing or saying anything which will denigrate any religion or offend followers of any religion. I do not believe they will support anyone either who would do or say something which will cause offence to others without a valid reason.

I am a strong supporter of freedom of speech, but I do not believe freedom of speech is an absolute thing, which gives any one a blanket permit to say or do anything without worrying about the consequences or genuine offence it might cause to others. There has to be a balance between the two.

I am also not demanding a ban on this Play, but I do want it to not denigrate the religious sentiments or beliefs of Hindus. They need to be sensitive towards the feelings of the followers of Hinduism. After all, the promotional material has words for Lord Ganesh like ““a mutated human,” “some form of genetic mutation…dreamt up as a secret weapon by the allies”, ” is interrogated and tortured by the Nazi SS”, and “desperately trying to cover his large elephant head under a wide-brimmed hat and high collar.”  Lord Ganesh has been described as “crushing people and military” and shown to be wearing a child’s nappy. These words and depiction could be quite offensive to the believers.

I expressed my concerns that “Ganesh versus the third Reich” play may create more troubles for Australia India relations, with the background of  the recent issues involving Indian students and others.

We are very aware of  the role of a segment in Indian media, which harmed the image of Australia with its exaggerated reports on students, often using racism tag for things which had nothing to do with race. This same segment can easily hype the issue involving “Ganesh versus the third Reich” as the issue between Australians and Indians. I am concerned about it, but I am also hopeful that people and media in both nations will treat matter of this type with sensitivity, objectivity and care.

I am for the faster growth of trade and relations between Australia and India. Australia, to me, is the best nation of the world.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/28th Sept, 2011

The Age newspaper reports on “Ganesh versus the third Reich” play in Melbourne festival.

Ganesh festival in India

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/hindus-want-to-ban-play-that-has-ganesh-reclaim-swastika-from-germany-20110926-1ktkb.html

Barney Zwartz, the Religion editor of The Age newspaper has reported on “Ganesh versus the third Reich” play being organised in Melbourne festival from 29th September, 2011.

See more details in my earlier posts.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/27th september, 2011

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The Telegraph [UK] coverage of “Ganesh Versus the Third Reich” play in Melbourne festival.

Lord Ganesh Sculpture

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/8776050/Hindu-fury-over-Australian-play-that-pits-god-Ganesh-against-Hitler.html

The Telegraph [UK] covers the controversy involving a play in Melbourne which is going to use the image of Lord Ganesh.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/21st Sept, 2011

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Don’t use deities of Hinduism inappropriately and disrespectfully!

I am concerned about the trend of using the symbols of Hinduism inappropriately and disrespectfully. Previously, Goddess Lakshmi was printed on a swim suit and a Sydney-based radio host made some adverse comments about the beliefs of followers of Hinduism, who consider River Ganges as sacred. Both these matters were tackled and remedied with withdrawal of the offensive actions and an apology. 

With this background, I find it very disappointing that Back To Back Theatre, in collaboration with Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne, is doing a play “Ganesh and the third Reich” in Melbourne Festival on 29th Sept, 2011. This play is going to use Lord Ganesha as matter for comedy and laughter. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganesha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika

 <<<Swsatka                                               >>>>Nazi swastika

Lord Ganesha does not need to go to Germany to deal “one to one” with Hitler! Nazi swastika is a corrupted form of the Hindu swastika and had no similarity with the original swastika which meant “Good luck”, unlike what Hitler was using it for. Nazi swastika was a sign of hatred and evil. Nazi variety has crosses at a 45 degree angle while the original one has horizontal and vertical arms with 4 dots.

One of most widely worshipped deities in Hinduism, Lord Ganesha, is regarded as god of wisdom, good luck and destroyer of obstacles, and is invoked at the beginning of businesses, projects and undertakings. Hinduism is a tolerant religion and respects other religions. It is one of the oldest religions and has been around for more than 5000 years. It is also the third largest religion of the world with more than one billion followers.

 I believe that People need to be sensitive to the beliefs and feelings of other people. Using Lord Ganesha in this manner is inappropriate and will be offensive to many followers of Hinduism. 

CIA-press-release-Lord-Ganesha

Depiction of Lord Ganesha in this manner is going to become an Issue in India and among Indians, and is likely to create a controversy between India and Australia, which is unnecessary.

Further more, agencies which receive public funding in Australia, can’t be associating with any action, commentary, documentary or play, which lampoons the beliefs, deities or feelings of people from any religion.  

I urge Melbourne Festival, Arts Victoria, Tourism Victoria, and City of Melbourne to consider the hurt, which people might experience from such parody of one of the most revered deities of Hinduism, and act with sensitivity.

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/19th Sept, 2011

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