‘Ganesh vs Hitler’ play at Melbourne Festival upsets Hindus
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Lord Ganesh is meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be made a laughing stock on theater stages.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that Lord Ganesh is divine and theater/film/art were welcome to create projects about/around him showing his true depiction as mentioned in the scriptures. Creating irrelevant imaginary imagery, like reportedly depicting him being tortured and interrogated by Nazi SS, hurt the devotees.
Its creator, internationally acclaimed ‘Back to Back Theatre’, itself calls it a ‘strange’ fable, ‘rambunctious’. Describing the play, media release of co-presenter Malthouse Theatre says that Ganesh “seeks to go one-on-one with Hitler”. It is also described by some as “wildly inventive ride through history, where sacred icons and rituals become weapons” and “brimming with humour”.
Rajan Zed argued that taxpayer funded organizations like Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Victoria and City of Melbourne; which supported this play; should be more vigilant in their selections.
Zed further pointed out that we needed to be more sensitive about the feelings of ‘others’. Recently, depiction of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi on swimwear at a fashion event held in Sydney resulted in worldwide protests. Popular radio host Kyle Sandilands recently made derogatory remarks, ridiculing Hindus’ holy river Ganga, on Sydney’s hit music station. Australian Swimwear Company, Sandilands and his radio station later apologized after the protests.
Bruce Galdwin directed ‘Ganesh Versus the Third Reich’, will be shown at Merlyn Theatre (The Malthouse) in Southbank (Victoria, Australia) from September 29 to October 9. Ticket prices are up to $58. It is also scheduled to be exhibited at the ‘5th World Summit on Arts and Culture’ on October 4.
Founded in 1987, Back to Back Theatre claims to be “one of Australia’s leading creative voices, focusing on moral, philosophical and political questions about the value of individual lives”. It states on its website, “The stories they create explore ‘the cold, dark side’ of our times…” Headquartered in Geelong (Victoria), Peter Bridges is Chair of its Board, Bruce Gladwin the Artistic Director and Alice Nash the Executive Producer. Over the last five years Back to Back has reportedly toured over 40 cities across the world and is said to be “one of Australia’s most globally recognised and respected contemporary theatre companies”.
Malthouse Theatre and Melbourne Festival are jointly presenting this play. Melbourne Festival, with Brett Sheehy as Artistic Director, claims to be one of Australia’s flagship international arts festivals and one of the major multi-arts festivals of the world. Malthouse Theatre, with Marion Potts as Artistic Director, is a non-profit organization “dedicated to the development, production, and promotion of contemporary Australian theatre”. Victoria’s capital Melbourne is the second most populous city of Australia.
One of most widely worshipped deities in Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is regarded as God of wisdom and good luck, patron of learning and remover of obstacles and invoked at the commencement of all undertakings. Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.