Hindus urge Opera Monte Carlo to discard culturally insensitive opera Lakmé

Hindus are urging Opera Monte Carlo (OMC) in Monaco to withdraw “Lakmé” opera; scheduled for December 09 and 11, 2022; which they feel seriously trivializes Hindu religious and other traditions.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that a renowned institution like OMC should not be in the business of callously promoting appropriation of traditions, elements and concepts of “others”; and ridiculing entire communities.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that this deeply problematic opera was just a blatant belittling of a rich civilization and exhibited 19th-century orientalist attitudes. He also urged OMC to apologize for such an inappropriate selection. OMC should have shown some maturity before selecting an opera like Lakmé (Lakshmi), displaying Western caricaturing of Eastern heritage and abetting ethnic stereotyping, Rajan Zed noted.

It was highly irresponsible for an establishment like OMC to choose such a ballet which had been blamed for caricaturing, appearance of mocking of “other” cultures, colonial terminology, degrading and offensive elements, dehumanizing portrayal, essentialism, narratives often failing to represent “other” cultures with dignity and humanity, imperialistic outlook, justifying ideas of superiority, looking down on people and customs, misrepresentation, considerably wrong about the culture it was supposed to be portraying, needless appropriation of cultural motifs, patronizing flawed mishmash of centuries-old orientalist stereotypes, pseudo and unabashed orientalism, reimagining Hindu traditions-practices-deities, shallow exoticism based on prejudice, etc. WCO could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Zed stated.

Rajan Zed suggested OMC Director Jean-Louis Grinda to re-evaluate OMC systems and procedures and send its executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future. Like many others, Hindus also consider opera as one of the revered art forms which offers richness and depth. But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated Lakmé, which premiered in 1883 in Paris, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Zed points out.

Tickets of this Lakmé opera in Rainier III Auditorium in Monaco cost up to €85. Its Musical direction is provided by Laurent Campellone, choir direction by Stefano Visconti, and Sabine Devieilhe is Lakmé. Lakmé, a French opera in three acts, was composed by Léo Delibes and set in India in the mid-19th century.