In yet another incident of Hindu deities being depicted in poor light and highly controversial poses, pictures posted by a Kerala based photographer Dia John during Navratri set off an outrage. After a massive outcry on social media and a complaint being lodged against her, John has now removed the provocative images and issued an apology.
Initially, John had pushed two posts from an intense photoshoot of a sensuous woman draped in a tomato red saree. She was showing smoking weed and consuming alcohol with abandon. With a huge red vermillion dot pasted on her forehead, holding a lotus, conch shell and a trident in her hands, the model was shown seated on a lotus, scandalously resembling a goddess. Highly derogatory words were emblazoned as the post’s caption.
The Aluva-based photographer John said that she along with team members Aathira, Jacob Anil, Zohaib Zayi and Akshay Rajnith were exploring the theme of women and freedom. Dia 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,” she said, adding, “It’s about women and their freedom. It’s about humanity.”
The caption of the post read: “A woman is considered a goddess, but what is she treated like? Often made to sit on a pedestal of purity, innocence and tolerance, she is stripped of her individuality. Isn’t it time that we accept her humanity?”
Considering the striking resemblance with Hindu Goddesses and the model who was shown smoking cannabis and consuming alcohol, Kochi-based Mukkootil Bhagavathy temple on 24 October filed a complaint at Maradu police station against photographer Dia John for attempting to hurt religious sentiments.
Advocate Madhu Narayanan, the secretary of Mukkootil Bhagavathy temple, said, “I have filed a complaint with my local police station.”
As per the complaint, the photos “depict the goddess in an insulting manner and comparing with ‘wh*re’, ‘sl*t’, etc. She is depicted as to preparing weed/Ganja to smoke and with liquor bottle beside, along with a trishul (Trident), a shankh (conch shell) and a lotus. There is a wish to Navaratri in the post, clearly showing that they have depicted the model as goddess Durga in the photoshoot.”
“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 communal divide among the people and to disturb the peace and tranquillity prevailing among them,” added the complaint.
“There were two posts. One was fine, the other showed her smoking and drinking liquor,” said Narayanan, adding: “I’m waiting for the police to investigate. They’ll transfer it to the cyber cell. I’m taking the legal course of action. It will take a couple of days.”
The lawyer further said that four other people had filed complaints in this regard.
Following this development, Dia John has backed off. She has put out an Insta post, issuing an apology after deleting the controversial pictures.