Protest mounts up in US against San Jose Museum of Art’s denigration of Hinduism

via Forum for Hindu Awakening published on August 5, 2011


The San Jose Museum of Art, a publically funded institution, is hosting an exhibition on Hinduism/Mother Sita. The exhibition that will continue until 4th September 2011 includes anti-Hindu Late M. F. Husain’s painting that shows Sita naked. As a part of this exhibition, the museum is also planning to show the extremely denigrating film, ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ on Saturday, 6th August 2011.

Please see below a letter sent by Forum for Hindu Awakening to the museum. Several other San Francisco Bay Area Hindus too, have protested in writing or by calling the museum. A group of local Hindus, including Forum for Hindu Awakening volunteers, met with the museum’s director Ms. Ingalls yesterday, urging them to cancel the show and remove the denigrating paintings. However, the directors said that they have already sold tickets for the show and they believe that both sides should be shown to the public when it comes to such exhibitions. The directors said that they have planned this exhibition after consulting “Hindu” organizations (e.g. ICC). .

We ask, “How can an art museum that receives substantial funding* from the City of San Jose hold an exhibition and a for-profit showing of a film that denigrate a certain section of its community ?!” (Please see below the San Jose City Auditor’s report*.).

If the cancellation does not happen, please join us in a peaceful protest demonstration outside the museum, on Saturday, 6th August at 11am.

Contact information :

Mayor and Members of the City Council Phone: (408) 535-1250 Fax: (408) 292-6071

200 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95113

Mayor Chuck Reed: [email protected] Phone: (408) 535-4800

San Jose Museum of Art [email protected] Phone: (408) 271-6840
110 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113
Director: Susan Krane: [email protected]
Manager: Nicole McBeth: [email protected]
Press contact: Sherrill Ingalls: [email protected] Phone: (408) 271-6872
Event manager: Jacqui Marchessini: [email protected]

Report of the San Jose City Auditor

( :

 “In FY 2009-10, the City of San José awarded $816,987 worth of financial assistance to the Museum of Art, including $500,000 in subsidies for operations and maintenance, $226,722 in arts grants, a $60,000 RDA grant, and $30,265 for the Art School. In addition, the City of San José provides facilities for the museum, museum store and administrative offices at no charge to the Museum; the estimated fair value of rent for these facilities was $1,638,001 at the end of FY 2008-09. Generally, the City is responsible for replacement of key building components and the Museum is responsible for general maintenance unless otherwise specified. In FY 2010-11, the City awarded the Museum $669,371 in financial assistance, plus $1.4 million in estimated fair value of rent for facilities at the end of FY 2009-10.”


Sadhaks from Forum for Hindu Awakening

From: Forum for Hindu Awakening . <[email protected]>

Subject: Exclude ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ and Husain’s ‘Ramayan’ painting from exhibition
To: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]


We have received complaints from several Hindus in the San Francisco Bay Area about your showing the film ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ at the San Jose museum this Saturday (6th August). We would like to bring to your attention that ‘Sita Sings the Blues’, which its producers claim to be based on Sage Valmiki’s Ramayan, is actually a denigrating parody of the Ramayan, a Holy epic of Hindus ! Through this animation film, animator Nina Paley has drawn irreverent parallels between her own heartbreak and the divine story of Mother Sita, who has been worshipped for ages by Hindus as the symbol of purity and devotion. Nina Paley has not retracted this film despite protests from 1000s of Hindus worldwide, showing her malicious intent and complete insensitivity towards the Hindu community. You can read in detail about the denigration perpetrated by this film at:
While browsing through your website about this event, we came to a related exhibition, Roots in the Air, Branches Below that showcases contemporary art from India. Chosen works of Indian artists like M. F. Husain are included in this exhibition. M. F. Husain had gained notoriety for hurting the sentiments of millions of Hindus with denigrating depictions of Hindus’ symbols of reverence, as in this work you are showcasing: This work is described on your website as follows : “In this painting… Husain broke from tradition by depicting Sita nude – an example of the way he reinterprets Indian epics.” The worldwide Hindu community has denounced such art of Husain as deliberately derogatory treatment reserved only for Hinduism’s sacred symbols, while Husain chose to depict other religions’ icons with due respect.In general, your esteemed institution’s effort towards education through art is remarkable. However, showing this denigrating film and painting can distort visitors’ learning about Hinduism and Mother Sita. It is also insensitive towards the worldwide Hindu community that is unaware about this exhibition for the most part. Hence, we urge you to cancel showing ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ and the above mentioned painting in your exhibition. (At the end of this letter, we have listed some other works that show Hinduism’s sacred symbols or concepts inaccurately or in a poor light; please cancel their inclusion as well from your exhibition.)

Bhavna Shinde
Spokesperson, Forum for Hindu Awakening

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