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Posts Tagged ‘Concerned Christians Canada’

Ganesh statue at the Calgary Zoo. Image by Hold Your Spin @ Flickr.

Ganesh statue at the Calgary Zoo. Image by Hold Your Spin @ Flickr.

On my last visit to the Calgary zoo seeing the elephants was a high priority. I have been fascinated with these big, beautiful, and endangered species since childhood. But as I wandered by the enclosure I noticed a new addition to the artwork collection at the zoo. A depiction of the Hindu god Ganesh, portrayed as a dancing elephant, met my curious eyes.

This statue has come under fire in recent times from a Calgary based group known as Concerned Christians Canada. The religious group claims such portrayals of religion have no place in such a public setting and are requesting that the zoo remove the statue; something the zoo is refusing to do. Concerned Christians chairman Jim Blake is quoted as saying, “The zoo is not a place of religious expression . . .Whether you are a believer of any faith or an atheist or agnostic, if you’re a non-Hindu, it’s a god that does not represent your views.”

As an advocate of cultural appreciation, I believe the statue is a fantastic way to expose non-Hindus to the influence of the elephant on the Hindu culture. And this is the zoo’s intent as well. After all, how can we possibly appreciate a culture if there is no way we can ever experience it? Canada is a multicultural nation, one of few in the world with this official policy, and as a result we have a duty as citizens to learn about the cultures that make our country unique.

To be clear, I do not think culture should be forced upon anyone. For example, if the statue had a big sign that said, “Hey everyone, Hinduism is the best” I would not be supporting the zoo in this dilemma. All in all, the zoo’s attempt at conveying the relationship between animals and culture through a statue of a religious figure is one that I can honestly support and believe it should not be stifled by a group of over-zealous individuals.



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