Hindus are urging City of New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, City Council and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin not to grant permits to parades related to Mardi Gras in 2017 and beyond, which showcase Hindu gods and goddesses.
A permit is reportedly required to stage a parade in the City of New Orleans as per City Ordinance.
Hindus are upset over reported parading of Hindu deities at a Lundi Gras parade associated with Mardi Gras celebrations on February eight evening in uptown New Orleans, calling it highly inappropriate.
According to reports, Krewe of Proteus presented the “The Hindu Heavens” themed parade which featured various Hindu deities; including Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Saraswati, Hanuman and Kali.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism; and Dr. Chandrashekar Venkat Subramaniam, President of Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Hindu Temple in Kenner (Louisiana); in a joint statement, said that Hindu deities were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be trivialized in carnival type parades. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for entertainment and other agendas was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
What was the purpose of unnecessarily dragging Hindu gods, whom Hindus venerated and seriously addressed their prayers, in an extravagant carnival type atmosphere associated with Mardi Gras? Subramaniam and Zed asked.
Rajan Zed and C. V. Subramaniam also urged the organizers of this parade involving Hindu gods to offer a formal apology.
Hinduism was the oldest living and third largest religion in the world with about one billion adherents and rich philosophical thoughts and it should not be taken frivolously. Sacred symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Subramaniam and Zed noted.
Rajan Zed and C. V. Subramaniam further said that Hindus were always 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 disturbing to the followers, they added.
Krewe of Proteus, founded in 1882, said to be the second-oldest parade krewe in New Orleans Mardi Gras, reportedly claims to be still using the original chassis from the early 1880’s for its floats. Lundi Gras happens on Monday before Mardi Gras Day (last day of the carnival season, which was February nine this year). The origins of Mardi Gras go back to medieval Europe and it was openly celebrated in New Orleans by 1730s, reports suggest. Parades are a major part of Mardi Gras celebrations. Krewe of Proteus reportedly had 230 men and 20 floats in this parade. Landrieu has called the 2016 Mardi Gras season a “huge success”, terming New Orleans Mardi Gras as “the biggest free show on earth”.