Niece shares image depicting Kamala Harris as Durga, outrage follows
A controversy was triggered after Meena Harris, the niece of United States Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, tweeted an image depicting the latter as Goddess Durga. Taking offense, Hindu groups asked Meena, who is a lawyer, to apologize. The controversial tweet has been deleted but that didn't allay the concerns of the people who thought the image was outrageous. Here are more details.
In the image, Harris was depicted as the Hindu deity and incumbent US President Donald Trump as demon king "Mahishasura." White House hopeful Joe Biden also featured in the controversial image as the lion, on whom Harris was seated. As per Hindu mythology, while riding a lion, Goddess Durga kills demons, eradicates evil from the earth, and restores peace.
The Hindu American Foundation, which represents Hindu Americans, found the image offensive, while issuing a guideline for commercial use of religious images. HAF's Suhag A Shukla said, "Your tweeting a caricature of the feminine divine, Maa Durga, with faces superimposed, deeply aggrieved many Hindus globally." Another outfit, Hindu American Political Action Committee, had similar opinions. However, the body noted Meena hadn't created the image.
Rishi Bhutada of Hindu American PAC said the Biden campaign confirmed to him it didn't create the image. However, Meena should still apologize, he added. "Our religious iconography shouldn't be used in the service of politics in America -- I said the same when the Fort Bend County GOP did it in an ad in 2018, and it holds the same here," Bhutada said.
Sharing the image, Meena had written, "I am actually speechless, other than to say that the first day of Navaratri was LIT." The fact that she deleted the tweet, without clarification or an apology, also hit a nerve. "This image is highly offensive and insulting to Hindus. Our Divinities are NOT cultural curios for you to mock and trivialise," author Shefali Vaidya had tweeted.
Over the weekend, Harris sent her best wishes for the nine-day festival. "@DouglasEmhoff and I wish our Hindu American friends and family, and all those celebrating, a very Happy Navratri! May this holiday serve as an inspiration to all of us to lift up our communities and build a more inclusive and just America," she tweeted, overlooking the fact that Navratri isn't a holiday.
Kamala is so Indian that she doesn't know navratri is not a holiday but a 9 day festival. Now everyone knows that how much she knows about it. 🙄🤦♂️😂😂— आनन्द मोहन🇮🇳 (@mohan_anand) October 18, 2020