|Lakshmi and Ganesha pictures on boxes of crackers. (Bangalore News Photos)
Bangalore, Dec. 27: Forgive us, Goddess Lakshmi, for using the word “bomb” after your name, year after year.
Karnataka’s BJP rulers are a step away from banning “misuse” of religious images, apparently after a “lot of complaints” from people offended by such “disrespect”.
So get ready to say bye-bye to Lakshmi Bomb, the firecracker brand. And to Ganesha T-shirts — you can be a devotee of the god, but how can you wear the divine remover of hurdles on your body?
“We have been receiving lots of complaints from people who feel offended at images of gods and goddesses being used inappropriately on crackers and garments,” minister for religious affairs Kota Srinivasa Poojary said in Bangalore. “We will put an end to this.”
So off with the T-shirts and Lakshmi Bomb firecrackers, which come in packets with the image of the goddess of wealth.
Earlier, too, Poojary had warned of action against those using such images to sell garments and firecrackers.
But the latest drive appeared to have been prompted by a specific complaint about the firecrackers that come from Sivakasi, the nation’s fireworks capital based in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
An official source said the complainant had pointed out that while “bomb” once meant an explosive device, the word had over the years gathered a sexual overtone, thanks to popular lingo.
Bomb, after all, is also used to describe mortals like Marilyn Monroe.
“This usage is quite unfortunate,” the minister said.
No point really reminding that Lakshmi, along with Ganesha, is worshipped on Diwali, the day the crackers light up the evening sky across the country.
Poojary is now waiting for a meeting of religious experts — the BJP’s Dharmika Parishad — scheduled for January 3 to pave the way for a law to stop such unholy marketing practices.
The minister had earlier sparked a controversy when he asked each of the state’s 37,000 Hindu temples under his ministry to hold rain prayers and pujas on July 27 and August 2. The prayers had cost the department Rs 18 crore.
Poojary had defended his action, saying churches and mosques were also asked to organise rain prayers to help the state cope with its worst draught in decades.
Sources said the government would come up with a code on use of “proper images”, likely to be framed within a week.
Why the rush? Apparently, the government wants to complete its unfinished tasks before its term ends in a few months and dates are declared for the Assembly elections, likely to be held in April.
So now, all quirky images representing Ganesha — for example, as a computer nerd or a cricketer — and images like cannabis leaves against the words Om Shanti Om are under the lens of the BJP rulers.
Local street vendors, who sell T-shirts with images of Hindu gods, have not yet heard of the impending ban. “The T-shirts we sell are not objectionable in any way,” said Ravishankar, a street vendor near the busy Commercial Street.
He sells an average of eight such T-shirts everyday. They cost anything between Rs 100 and Rs 300.
Told of the likely ban, Narendra Nayak, one of the top rationalists in the state, smiled. “I have nothing much to say on this as such images are in any case misused to market products and exploit customers,” he said.