8 Mar :Hindus are seeking intervention of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) to remove controversial photograph of a nude man with visible genitals from a government museum in Helsinki, which they say denigrates Hinduism.
Advancing the movement launched by acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, Dharam Loonaa, a Hindu leader, in a communiqué to Archbishop Jukka Paarma of ELCF, said, “We are herby requesting you to intervene and use you influence to seek the removal of this photograph… We believe that it is the responsibility of the majority (ELCF in this case) to protect its minority (Hinduism in this case).”
Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening, in another communiqué to Archbishop Paarma, stated, “Since you are the head of the majority church in Finland, we are requesting your intervention to halt the display of a photograph denigrating to Hinduism.”
Meanwhile, Finland Prime Minister’s office has forwarded the Hindu leaders’ request for removal of this “disrespectful” photograph from an exhibition at internationally renowned Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki to National Board of Antiquities of Finland “for further possible actions”.
This protest, spearheaded by Universal Society of Hinduism president Zed, has got the attention of more Hindu leaders, and besides immediate removal of the controversial photograph, they are also asking for public apology from Finland Education Minister Henna Virkkunen, Director General of the Finnish National Gallery Risto Ruohonen, Kiasma Director Brendt Arell, and award winning artist Marita Liulia. Kiasma is a unit of Finnish National Gallery, a public body under Finland Ministry of Education.
Rajan Zed points out that Hindus are for freedom of expression as much as anybody else if not more. Hindu tradition encourages peaceful debates, won on their intellectual merit. But faith is something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees.
In a statement in Nevada (USA) today, Zed said that continual showing of naked man, as an apparent representation of Hinduism and sacred city of Pushkar despite protests and requests was very disturbing to already upset Hindu populace of the world.
Christianity came to Finland as early as the ninth century, and according to an estimate, about 83% of Finns are members of ELCF. ELCF website says, “The church is a well respected institution in Finland. The core roots of Finnish society lie in the work of the Church.” Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal.
Controversial photograph “Hinduism: The Night of Pushkar 2” is on display till April 19 as part of Liulia’s “Choosing My Religion” multimedia exhibition at Kiasma, in which her 72 art pieces juxtapose Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and Animism. This exhibition will later travel to Tampere, Turku and Vaasa cities in Finland.
Rajan Zed has described this photograph display as “very disrespectful, hurting and irreverent”.