Hindu gods' toys at Peabody Essex Museum Shop

India Post News Service

“World-Renowned” Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem (Massachusetts) have withdrawn from its online shop the six plush toys featuring Hindu deities Krishna-Ganesh-Hanuman after Hindus protested calling these “highly inappropriate”.

These Hindu gods’ plush toys, selling between $20 to $38 each at online PEM Shop on October 15, were not there Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest and thanked PEM for understanding the concerns of Hindu community,

Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested that institutions like PEM should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had an understanding of the feelings of communities and visitors when introducing new products, hosting exhibitions, acquiring/displaying collections, indulging in creative expression, chalking out programming, etc.

 Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman were greatly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely on the floor, bathrooms, cars, etc.; or “attach it to your baby’s diaper bag” or “press its belly” to make it sing for you; or hit by feet; or squeezed; or used as a pillow or play ball; etc. (Description of Lord Hanuman Plush toy even hinted at bending its “flexible tail”). Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for mercantile or other agenda was not okay

PEM; “nation’s oldest continuously operating museum”, supported by “state and federal grants” and which claims to focus on “cultural understanding”; should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege and belittling sacred Hindu deities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deities to be treated like this; Rajan Zed had indicated.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. Lord Krishna is the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu and subject of major Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) and Bhagavad-Purana. Lord Hanuman is known for incredible strength and was a perfect grammarian.

Founded in 1799, PEM claims its “collection is among the finest of its kind, with superlative works from around the globe and across time”, and also claims to hold “one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts”.