A Kerala-based photographer named Dia John sparked outrage after her Facebook post, depicting Hindu deities in a poor light, went viral on social media.
On Thursday, she had uploaded two posts on Facebook where a female model, wearing a red saree, posed as a Hindu deity on the occasion of Navratri. The woman was seen holding a lotus in one hand and the Holy trident (Trishul) in the other hand. She also had the mark of vermillion on her forehead and a conch shell was placed near sir. Such photoshoots, depicting female models as Hindu goddesses to send across a social message, are a commonplace affair. However, in the particular case, the deity was seen smoking weed and also drinking alcohol.
Dia John’s scandalous Facebook post was accompanied with a caption that read, “A woman is considered a goddess but what is she treated like? Often made to seat on a pedestal of purity, innocence and tolerance, she is stripped of her individuality. Isn’t it time that we accept her humanity?” The photographer had also tagged her team members namely, Aathira, Jacob Anil, Zohaib Zayi and Akshay Rajnith in the contentious Facebook post.
Hindu temple files complaint against Kerala photographer
Her deliberate distortion of Hindu religion and culture, under the garb of women rights activism, did not go well with netizens. Meanwhile, Kochi-based Mukkootil Bhagavathy temple had filed a complaint against Dia John with the Maradu police for hurting Hindu religious sentiments. The same was confirmed by advocate Madhu Narayanan, who serves as the Secretary of the temple.
The police complaint highlighted that Goddess Durga was depicted in an insulting manner and compared with a ‘wh*re’, and ‘sl*t’. “This depiction in the name of ‘creativity’ is a deliberate attempt with malicious intent to insult the religious feelings of Hindus. It is being circulated on these days of Navaratri only to create a communal divide among the people and to disturb the peace and tranquillity prevailing among them,” the complaint emphasised.
Narayanan further informed that the case will soon be transferred to the cyber cell department. He reiterated that the Mukkootil Bhagavathy temple will pursue the case legally and that several others have filed a case against the photographer.
Dia John issues apology, deletes derogatory pictures
Following the social media backlash and the police complaint, the photographer has deleted the pictures where the female model was seen smoking and drinking with a Holy trident in hand. While tendering an apology on Facebook, she wrote, “I am extremely sorry that some sentiments have been inadvertently hurt by a recent photoshoot which I did a few days back. I respect all religions and it would never be my intention to disrespect any…On behalf of the entire team, we do sincerely apologise… Happy Navaratri.”
In her defence, Dia John claimed that the photoshoot was meant to explore the theme of ‘women and freedom’. while speaking to Times Now, she said, “Everywhere, it is expected that women are obedient and that they should not be given freedom. But they want freedom. They have dreams. We were trying to subvert the label of a goddess that a woman is given. Nowhere have we mentioned the name of any goddess, nor have we taken it from an anti-religious perspective. It’s about women and their freedom. It’s about humanity.”