Goddess Mother Kali
#ChitraGanesh exhibit of Goddess Mother Kali Image Credit: Chitra Ganesh

Hindu’s upset over Kali exhibit

Uproar across the American continent and the general international Hindu community over a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum that includes a 60-foot wall mural featuring an image of the highly revered deity Goddess Mother, Kali.

The deity, familiarly known as the Goddess of Destruction and Rebirth, who has six arms, three legs and three breasts, is meant to be worshiped in temples or home shrines — not “thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects on museum walls,” prominent Hindu leader Rajan Zed said.

“Such absurd depiction of goddess Kali with no scriptural backing was hurtful to the devotees,” the director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Nevada added.

The large-scale mural at the Brooklyn Museum is the brainchild of Chitra Ganesh, a Ditmas Park resident, who is originally from India.

Ganesh, 39, made the mural “of iterations of feminine power” with an amalgamation of random objects.

The museum did not return several calls and emails seeking comment, and Ganesh was not immediately available.

In a video describing the exhibit, Ganesh says her work “explores themes of femininity and multiplicity using inspiration from the collection of objects of the Brooklyn Museum.”

There are more than 150 prayer flags displayed above the mural designed to invoke institutions or temples, Ganesh said.

The flags each have a silkscreen image affixed on them and are made from her mother’s old saris and other materials from India.

This is not the first time Zed has been angered by the use of sacred Hindu symbols.

The vocal leader asked Urban Outfitters last December to yank socks with the image of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha.


About Ganesh: Exploring ideas of femininity, empowerment, and multiplicity, Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh draws inspiration from the Museum’s encyclopedic collection, including representations of the goddess Kali, to create a site-specific multimedia installation for the Herstory Gallery.

chitraganeshChitra Ganesh: Eyes of Time centers on a monumental mural that takes Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction and rebirth, and other figures from Judy’s Chicago’s The Dinner Party as starting points for portraying female power and plurality. The artist expands on this theme by showcasing works from our Egyptian, Indian, and Contemporary collections.

For more than a decade, Ganesh has used the iconography of mythology, literature, and popular culture to bring to light feminist and queer narratives. One of her first major works, Tales of Amnesia (2002)—a zine inspired by Indian comic books that the Museum acquired out of our 2004 exhibition Open House: Working in Brooklyn—is also on view.


Chitra Ganesh: Eyes of Time
December 12, 2014–July 12, 2015

Sources: Youtube, Brooklyn Museum, NY Daily News

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.