New Delhi: Bajrang Dal activists in Nagpur reportedly forced people to submerge an idol of Ganesha to. The idol was meant to raise awareness about pollution in the Ganga river, but the Bajrang Dal said that it was disrespectful, according to a report in the Times of India.
Members of the Rudra Ganeshotsav Mandal in Nagpur’s Jaripatka had designed a special idol, depicting Lord Ganesha as Lord Rudra – an avatar of Lord Shiva – for Ganesh Chaturthi this year to raise social awareness. On one side was the idol of a man polluting the river Ganga, while the other showed a furious Lord Ganesha trying to save the Ganga.
Bajrang Dal activists took offence to this depiction of Lord Ganesha and asked the organisers of the mandal to immediately immerse the idol. Bajrang Dal activists claimed that this depiction of Lord Ganesh was disrespectful and that the image of Lord Ganesh holding a woman – Ganga – in his hands was “highly objectionable”.
The report also claimed that while the police in Jaripatka provided protection to the organisers of the mandal, some police officials allegedly told the members of the mandal to immerse the idol promptly.
Speaking to TOI, Rajkumar Sharma of the Bajrang Dal said that the depiction of Ganga as an inappropriately dressed woman was objectionable and that the idol of Lord Ganesha “deeply hurt” their sentiments. “How can Lord Rudra, an avatar of Lord Shiva, be depicted as Lord Ganesh. This is mockery of Hindu religion,” he said.
Bajrang Dal activists had allegedly been objecting to the statue right from the beginning and had threatened the idol maker at his home with swords a few days ago. “They told him that they would not allow the statue to leave his house for the mandal venue, but we somehow managed to transport it,” said one of the organisers.
Bajrang Dal activists then filed a complaint with the Jaripatka police after the idol was consecrated and the police summoned the organisers of the mandal to the police station. An organiser for the event said that “Though the police gave us protection, they sided with the right-wingers. Eventually, the cops told us to fall in line and immerse the idol.” The organiser said that the idol was removed at midnight on September 3 and immersed in the wee hours of September 4.
The organisers of the mandal then installed a statue of Bahubali Ganesh instead, to avoid creating a controversy.
Another organiser for the mandal said that they had no intention of mocking the Hindu religion and that right-wing outfits did not acknowledge freedom of expression.” We only wanted to create awareness about pollution. Many Ganesh idols in the city are depicted as policeman etc every year, but Bajrang Dal never objects to it,” he said.
In a Facebook post, Rudra Ganesh Utsav Mandal addressed the early visarjan of the idol of Lord Ganesh.
The mandal said that even though their intentions were explained, they had to perform the immersion of the idol “in immense pressure and against desire”. The post further went on to say that the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi was “never just about our entertainment”.
Pointing out that India’s rivers were undergoing “drastic change” and that Ganga was” one of the most sacred” and endangered rivers, the organisers of the mandal wanted to create awareness within the community the seriousness of preventing water pollution of rivers, lakes, groundwater and drinking water at the household level. “The message was that we have polluted our rivers so much that Ganesha has now come ahead to save Ganga from humans polluting her,” the post said.
Rakesh Pathrabe, the man who made the idol of Lord Ganesh as Lord Rudra, has previously created idols on socially relevant themes such as ‘Save Petrol’ and the ‘Beti Bachao’ initiative. “If you want to spread a good message in India, God is the perfect medium,” he observed.