I pray in front of these idols, but last night I peed in front of them.
As I opened the doors of the restroom carved with the Hindu hymn “Om” at a Moscow bar, the images of Hindu god Shiva along with his wife Parvati and son Ganesha was utterly shocking. Then I checked another restroom: there was a huge image of the monkey-god Hanuman.
At first, I was left without a reaction, then it was a little bit annoying, and now that I come to think of it, it is very disrespectful.
I used the restroom anyway, but I didn’t make a trip to the loo for the rest of the night we spent in that bar. My other Hindu friend was not able to use the restroom anyway—she found it disgraceful.
So is this just a matter of insensitiveness or ignorance? For any hardcore Hindu or even someone like me who has grown up praying to these gods, it is a matter of disrespect—disrespect to a faith regardless one believes in it or not.
Consider having a picture or an idol of Jesus in the restroom—would anyone do that? Would that be considered appropriate? Probably not.
So why is it with Hindu gods and goddesses that the West has some weird fascination?
Maybe it is because of the appearance of our gods and goddesses—fully decked in gold and diamond ornaments with prolific outfits, people cannot help admiring them.
So much for the admiration and adoration that Hindu gods and goddesses have become an integral decoration piece in most of the Indian restaurants in the West; they add aesthetic and create an authentic ambience, I suppose.
So much for the fascination that the Hindu gods and goddesses have become artworks in t-shirts and even bikinis, causing ire to Hindu fundamentalists.
At this bar, I think the act of ignorance or insensitiveness has crossed the border. I see it as a sign of disrespect.
Most of the Hindus have their rooms of worship or even idols of their gods and goddesses far from their restrooms. As in any other religion, the idols represent the religion’s beliefs.
And here they are, at this bar, plastered in the restrooms, as some fancy piece of artwork.
As I made my way out and sat down in the bar area, I did manage to ask the question.
“Can I ask you a serious question,” I asked the man at the bar, an Algerian man, who looked like the manager.
“I know what you’re going to ask,” he said as he handed my drink. “I don’t know anything about the restrooms.”
Well, before I even asked my question, he had a clear idea of what it would be. Doesn’t this mean that he perhaps knows about those “artworks” in the restrooms?
I am sure no one just picked up those tiles just because they looked fancy. The person must have had an idea of what they represented to the least.
I am not a very religious person but the restrooms made me think and question.
As much as I would not disrespect and offend any other faith, I would like to see my faith and religion being respected too.
At least I would not want to see them in the restroom of some bar.
Call it insensitive or ignorant, but I say, it is insulting—it is insulting someone else’s faith and belief. You may argue, but this is just my point of view.