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Naomi Canton | TNN | London | June 27, 2021:: British and American Hindus are calling for a play that they say denigrates, abuses, trivialises, and mocks Hinduism to be pulled from the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) in August.
“Hindu Times”, written by Scottish Indian playwright Jaimini Jethwa, which contains the “F” word, sexual references and foul language, is about the Hindu gods Vishnu and Brahma incarnating on earth as two local Dundee “wide boys”, Vince and Barry, to save an Indian woman called “Lakhi, aka Lakshmi”.
It will have three performances at the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh on August 20 and 21. A warning on the one hour and 15 minutes play states: “Contains strong language and adult themes.”
Dundee-based writer Jethwa, a Scot of Ugandan Indian roots whose family hail from Porbandar, wrote in the Guardian: “Hindu Times is my Dundee raga to the Hindu gods.” Directed by Caitlin Skinner, the play starts with Lakhi at a party in Dundee that runs out of alcohol and all the shops are shut. Lakha bumps into these two men and tells them to help her get alcohol out of her father’s shop. They then break into the local Spar convenience store where they take blue pills and down vodka.
“Locked in a Spar, their epic mission begins to restore balance on Earth and finally reunites Vishnu with his eternal consort, Lakshmi,” Jethwa writes in the Guardian. “She has forgotten she’s a goddess. Vishnu, aka Vince, is the consort of Lakshmi through all of time and eternity. Without her, he loses his auspicious strength. Their love is eternal and he’ll go anywhere to save her — even Dundee.”
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism in the US, said that Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and “not dragged around through the streets of Dundee looking for booze”.
“No Hindu scripture mentions their visit to Dundee. Inappropriately reimagining Hindu deities and redefining Hinduism for commercial or other agenda was not okay,” he said, urging EIF to send its executives for cultural sensitivity training.
“We find this concept of using Hindu names to peddle narratives of adharmic values, normalising abhorrent activities, unethical use scriptures, is totally gross to the point of hate crime. Denigrating the very foundation of Sanatan Vedic dharma is not acceptable,” said Trupti Patel, president of the Hindu Forum of Britain.
“Appropriate ritual imbues images with authentic divine presence. The play is an extremely inappropriate representation of the Hindu deities and faith. Although modern movies explore the transformation of different gods on modern earth they do not make fun or misrepresent the belief,” said Rajnish Kashyap, general secretary at the Hindu Council UK.
Nandini Singh, head of social media at Reach India (UK), said: “We politely request EIF to listen to the Hindus and to not show this play. Our values teach us not to disrespect and hurt others.”
Overseas Friends of BJP of UK president Kuldeep Shekhawat said: “We request EIF to withdraw this play if it is making derogatory remarks or using foul language.”