Hindus are heartbroken as City of Edinburgh Council refused to halt the funding to Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) for what Hindus saw as “collaboration in the mockery of Hindu gods”.
Lindsay A. Robertson, Council’s Culture Strategy Manager, in an email (on behalf of Council Chief Executive Andrew Kerr) to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the EIF defunding request, wrote that Council “respects programming independence, artistic rights and freedom and does not expect to control or direct what is presented by the city’s cultural sector. Therefore, there is no plan to remove Council funding from the Edinburgh International Festival.”
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was sad to see the Council let a minority religion be ridiculed at the public-square despite its tall claims of “Inclusiveedinburgh” and stated commitment “to improving equality, inclusion and diversity across Edinburgh”. Is this Edinburgh’s strategy to stay as claimed “cultural capital of the world”? Zed asked.
City governments should not be in the business of using taxpayer’s money to fund projects which patronize sacrilege, blatant belittling of “other” traditions and ridiculing entire communities; Rajan Zed had pointed out.
Publicly funded charity EIF, which claims itself as “world class cultural event”, recently refused to drop “Hindu Times” play (August 20-21) as requested by Zed, who called it “highly inappropriate” as it reportedly trivializes immensely revered Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Lakshmi.
Rajan Zed had also urged other EIF funders-partners-supporters like Scottish Government, British Council, UK Government, Culture Ireland, University of Edinburgh, Australian High Commission, Austrian Cultural Forum, Canada, Germany Consulate General, Edinburgh Napier University, etc.; to earnestly think about pulling-out their support of EIF if it continued to corroborate in trivializing the deeply held beliefs of “others”. Zed also requested HRH The Earl of Wessex to rethink about his patronage of organization like EIF.
Rajan Zed had said that Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely or dragged around unnecessarily through the streets of Dundee reportedly looking for booze and breaking into a closed shop for it.
Zed had indicated that Brahma-Vishnu-Lakshmi were divine and entertainment companies were welcome to create projects about/around them showing their true depiction as mentioned in the Hindu scriptures (no Hindu scripture mentions their visit to Dundee). Inappropriately reimagining Hindu deities/concepts/scriptures/symbols/icons and redefining Hinduism for commercial or other selfish agenda was not okay as it hurt the feelings of devotees.
Rajan Zed had stated that 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 hurt the adherents.
Besides hurting the sentiments, any misrepresentation created confusion among non-Hindus about Hinduism. Insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols; Zed had remarked.
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. No faith, larger or smaller, should be mishandled, Rajan Zed had noted.
According to reports, Lakshmi and Brahma use F-words in the play. “Hindu Times” review in The Guardian stated: “Gods Vishnu, Lakshmi and Brahma become street-smart hedonists…”.
EIF; established in 1947 and which showcases dance, opera, music, theatre, etc.; is being held this year in Edinburgh from August 07 to 29. “Hindu Times”; written by Jaimini Jethwa and directed by Caitlin Skinner; has been scheduled at The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh.