Hindus worldwide are upset at the cartoon of Lord Ganesh depicting a cricket tussle in the Sunday Times newspaper of South Africa dated October 27, calling it trivialization of their highly revered deity.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was inappropriate depiction of Lord Ganesh who was worshipped by Hindus world over and was thus hurtful to the devotees.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Times Media Group (TMG) (which owns Sunday Times) CEO Andrew David Bonamour, Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt and cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro to immediately issue a formal apology and remove the objectionable cartoon from its and Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) website. He also urged two Hindu Board members of TMG to resign in protest if no apology was offered.
Rajan Zed asked for urgent intervention of South Africa organizations—The Press Ombudsman; Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; and South African Human Rights Commission—in the issue and taking appropriate action against Sunday Times.
Zed pointed out that Lord Ganesh was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects or other agenda. Unnecessarily tying Lord Ganesh with B.C.C.I. , depicting human sacrifice at his feet, and him holding a cricket bat and wads of money in his hands (instead of usual objects, like conch shell) was highly inappropriate, Zed noted.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed argued.
Zed further said that such trivialization of Lord Ganesh was disturbing to Hindus. 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 devotees, Zed added.
In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.
The Sunday Times, headquartered in Johannesburg and founded in 1906, is said to be the largest weekly newspaper in South Africa. Its owner TMG whose tagline is “live inspired”, “is a media and entertainment company that informs, educates, entertains and connects people.”