A Louisiana krewe has apologized to Hindu devotees who were offended by the krewe’s choice of costuming for their annual ball and parade.
The Ladies’ Krewe of Galatea in Morgan City issued an apology to Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, after Zed contacted them following what he considered an inappropriate and offensive use of the Hindu religion.
The krewe hosted its annual ball and tableau Jan. 23 with the theme “Galatea Travels to India.” Queen Galatea XLVII dressed as Shakti, the divine power manifested in goddess in Hindu belief, and the king appeared as Brahma, the creator god. Other members also posed as Hindu deities.
Zed said Hindu deities are meant to be worshiped in temples and home shrines — not trivialized in balls or tableaux. Many Hindu devotees were hurt by the casual use of their sacred beings for others’ entertainment, Zed said. In addition to the inappropriate representation of the deities, Zed said the krewe members dressed as deities were paired during the parade in a way that was inconsistent with Hindu scriptures and highly improper.
“These are serious spiritual doctrines. They are very valuable and not to be taken lightly,” Zed said.
Helen Solar, captain of the Krewe of Galatea, wrote in the apology letter the krewe did not intend to disrespect or offend members of the Hindu religion.
“The entire Ball Masque was intended to be a fantasy voyage for our members and guests to experience some of the beauty, variety, history and culture of the wonderful culture of India,” Solar wrote. “We assure you that nothing we presented was intended to offend and do apologize if we lead anyone to that interpretation.”
The first part of the krewe’s tableau included Indian music and narratives explaining various cultural and historical aspects of India. The introduction of the Hindu deities was meant to highlight India’s major religion, Solar said.
As a precaution, Solar sent the script to a Hindu contact in India and asked for corrections to any inaccuracies, inconsistencies or potential offenses. The krewe also purchased all the costuming from India.
“It was wonderfully done, in very good taste,” Solar said. ” They were dressed in gorgeous costumes, and they all came from India. It was telling about the culture. It wasn’t to make fun of anyone.”
Zed said he was grateful for the krewe’s apology and thanked the krewe for showing maturity and responsibility by apologizing, as well as understanding the feelings of the Hindu community.
“Hindus understood that the purpose of the Krewe of Galatea in this case apparently was not to denigrate Hinduism,” Zed said. “She did apologize, so we are okay with that now. We should just be understanding.”
Zed said Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, with more than a billion adherents.
He hopes the Krewe of Galatea will not pose as Hindu deities for their next parade, scheduled this month.
Zed also encouraged individuals to visit a Hindu temple or learn about the Hindu way of life to better understand the culture and religion.