A day after the Indian High Commission in Canada urged the Canadian authorities to withdraw the provocative material related to Hindu gods from the poster of a film showcased at the Aga Khan Museum, the museum authorities in Toronto have apologised for hurting the Hindu sentiments.
Social media site Twitter has also removed the film’s poster shared by its director Leena Manimekalai. The film’s poster depicted a woman dressed as Kali, the Hindu goddess, smoking and holding the pride flag of the LGBTQ community.
Aga Khan Museum Toronto said in a statement that Toronto Metropolitan University brought together works from students of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, each student exploring their individual sense of belonging as part of Canadian multiculturalism for the project ‘Under the Tent.’
“Toronto Metropolitan University’s project presentation was hosted once at the Aga Khan Museum on July 2, 2022, in the context of the Museum’s mission to foster intercultural understanding and dialogue through the arts. Respect for diverse religious expressions and faith communities forms an integral part of that mission. The presentation is no longer being shown at the Museum. “
“The Museum deeply regrets that one of the 18 short videos from ‘Under the Tent’ and its accompanying social media post have inadvertently caused offence to members of the Hindu and other faith communities,” it added.
On removing the poster from Twitter, Leena Manimekalai said,” This is hilarous.Will TwitterIndia withhold the tweets of the 200000 hate mongers?! These lowlife trolls tweeted and spread the very same poster that they find objectionable. Kaali cannot be lynched. Kaali cannot be raped. Kaali cannot be destroyed. She is the goddess of death.”
The poster has sparked anger in India, and more than one FIRs have been lodged against the film director Leena Manimekalai.
“We have received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about disrespectful depiction of Hindu gods on the poster of a film showcased as part of the ‘Under the Tent’ project at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto,” said the Indian High Commission in a statement.
Describing her film as a “performance documentary”, Ms Manimekalai said, “Super thrilled to share the launch of my recent film – today at Aga Khan Museum as part of its “Rhythms of Canada”.
The tweet sparked anger among many Hindus in India and worldwide, who have accused her of offending their religious sentiments. Ms Manimekalai’s name was trending on social media in India on Monday.
The filmmaker is currently studying in Canada. She told the BBC that the goddess she depicts in her film “champions humanity and embraces diversity”.
“As a poet and filmmaker, I embody Kaali in my own independent vision,” she said.