8 Nov : Remonstration against the actress, supermodel, and producer Heidi Klum for posing as Goddess Kali at a Halloween party in a club at New York appears to be widening.
Supporting the perturbed Hindu leaders, some of who called it denigrating and asked Klum to tender public apology for this portrayal, various Hindu and non-Hindu leaders have come out expressing concern. Acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed who initiated the protest, has said that Goddess Kali was highly revered in Hinduism and she was meant to be worshipped in temples and not to be used in clubs for publicity stunts or thrown around loosely for dramatic effects.
Reverend Larry Edward Schneider, Minister of Unity Church of Today in Nevada, stated, “I’m saddened to hear that the Goddess Kali, who is widely worshipped in Hinduism, has been portrayed in a way that is viewed by many followers of Hinduism as inappropriate. It is my hope that actress Heidi Klum, who posed as the Goddess Kali at a Halloween party, did so out of misunderstanding and will offer an apology to the Hindu community.”
Nevada Clergy Association president Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., has said, “Nevada Clergy Association (NCA) humbly requests supermodel Heidi Klum to offer a general public apology to Hindu brothers-sisters who we understand felt hurt on her portraying as Hindu Goddess Kali in a Halloween party in New York. We at NCA are for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts (intentional or unintentional) at debasing it cause pain to the adherents. Entertainment industry should be more conscious while handling faith related subjects.”
Swami Pooja Saraswati, a well respected spiritual leader, in an appeal to Klum said, “We know that you would not intentionally offend people of any religion, but, sometimes out of lack of knowledge we all make mistakes that may do just that. It so happens that the Goddess Kali, whose appearance may seem peculiar to some folks of a different culture, is a deity to many Hindus and it seems that some sentiments were hurt.”
Lonnie L. Feemster, civil rights activist and Religious Affairs Chair of Reno-Sparks National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, argued, “Supermodel Heidi Klum should apologize to Hindus, who may have been offended, by her portrayal of Hindu deity Goddess Kali, as a Halloween costume… I have read Ms. Klum has great interest in the Hindu religion. She should understand the importance to apologize when people feel their religious beliefs have been demeaned.”
Somnath Paramshetti of Forum for Hindu Awakening USA, addressing Klum, said, “Sree Kali is worshipped by Hindus. Your using this sacred symbol for fun has hurt and insulted the worldwide Hindu community… we urge you to publish a public apology for this irresponsible depiction of our Deity”.
Annabelle Younger of International Society for Krishna Consciousness, says, “I must vehemently protest this misguided abuse of the sacred religious symbols of the world’s oldest continuous Religion and Culture…”.
Rajan Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that ksama (forgiveness) was one of the main virtues of Hindu ethics. If Klum offered sincere public apology, Hindus would not only absolve her but might also pray for her success in future ventures, if asked.
Nominated for five Primetime Emmys, German born 35 years old Klum is actress, model, producer, fashion designer, singer, and television personality.
Goddess Kali, who personifies Sakti or divine energy, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. She is considered the goddess of time and change. Some Bengali poets described her as supreme deity.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion followers. Moksha (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.