Monday, June 13, 2005

Ganesha and Genesis

There is an item in the news these days about how a zoo in the US is going to feature a Biblical display. A what, you say? That’s what I said, before I read the front-page article in a leading daily, and all was clear.
The zoo in the fair city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has displayed a statue of our very own Ganesha outside the elephant enclosure, along with a marble globe inscribed with an American Indian saying. One day, a gentleman named Dan Hicks goes to the zoo. Upon seeing this exhibit, his religious sentiments are awakened. He reasons, “Why shouldn’t there be a display featuring something from the Bible? They already have two items from other religions in there.”
So what does the good Mr. Hicks do? He trots over to the zoo officials and tells them his idea. The next thing is, there is an official decision in favor of his proposal. The vote came in as 3-1, after over two hours of “public comment from a standing-room-only crowd.” So now the Tulsa zoo elephant enclosure will have some appropriately edifying display to illustrate Creationism, taken from Genesis.
In a case of classic understatement, Tulsa zoo officials sniffed, “ I’m afraid we are going in the wrong direction,” and the priceless “I do not like the idea of Scripture in the zoo.” What they had originally intended with the Ganesha and Native American exhibit is to show how the elephant is perceived in other cultures. Incidentally, there also happens to be a display of the Republican Party’s elephant symbol.
It seems to me that Ganesha has been getting a bit of attention in the U S of A lately. First, some dingbat came out with the idea of putting pictures of Ganesha on beer bottles (Like, dude, isn’t that so cool?). Now Ganesha will be competing for shelf space with Creationism displays, in the Tulsa zoo. Talk about transcending boundaries.
Maybe he is just having the last laugh here, but I for one do find it a tad absurd as to how the Creationism display will exactly tie in with elephants. And why stop at this particular enclosure? Why not set up an auction to sell space outside all the animal enclosures to display a tableau from your religion? After all, doesn’t it make perfect sense to have religious debate in a zoo?Then it would all be very democratic. Let’s say we have zebras. My religion says optical illusions are cool, so let me put up a display! But wait, my neighbor is really into finding spiritual peace by hanging upside down from trees, so he is going to display outside the chimpanzee section, damn it!
Oh, I don’t know. I really don’t. But does it strike anyone that maybe an alternate route to take would be to remove exhibits that appear to strike a religious chord? To achieve this, they may have to go through each enclosure with a fine-tooth comb, but yours truly thinks that this would be more appropriate than adding displays with more religious overtones.


Col said...


Rupa said...

Devida - this article is REALLY FUNNY ! You had me almost fall off my seat !

There was uproar at some time in London, where a toilet (W.C.)making company wanting to advertize as "the goddess of the W.C." actually put pictures of Indian goddess (probably mistaking for apsaras?) on the TOILET SEAT COVERs. You can imagine the hue and cry by the Indian Bhramin Community, not to say that the other Indians didn't support their cause - infact, apparently, they were aslo selling goddess engraved bath accessories !!

It was hilariously shocking !!! What happended to consumer research and socio-economic studies before launching products??

Anonymous said...

I despise religiosity in general and only want to see it in public if it's being ridiculed. However, who cares if a zoo in Tulsa, Oklahoma (true, it's far away from me) has a Bible exhibit? Just keep the critters locked up. I'm sure you can find alot more ridiculous things than that in USA. Or in any other country. I'm not saying I don't object at all what happened there, but can you be surprised? No. That kind of nonsense should be expected from hmm, about 50% of Americans. What exactly is the big problem here? Do you want to get rid of all "dingbats" or something? :))

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