New Delhi, October 3, 2021: Hindus are urging Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape to apologize for the reported derogatory comments made by PNG Constabulary Commissioner regarding goddess Durga worship and grant permission to hold the prayer event in Port Moresby within existing COVID-19 parameters and protocols.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that calling prayers for goddess Durga (Durga Puja) event planned to be held in Port Moresby from October 12-17 as “morally inappropriate” by a senior PNG government official was quite disturbing for the Hindus world over.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged PNG Governor-General Robert Dadae and PM Marape to personally participate in the Durga Puja event showing their commitment for religious freedom and pluralism in PNG, and ensuring the Hindu community that its religious rights were protected. He also suggested them to send the senior government functionaries for cultural and religious sensitivity training.
According to reports; David Manning, MBE, Controller of National Pandemic Response and Commissioner of the Royal PNG Constabulary, in a letter to Port Moresby Durga Puja Committee dated September 18, termed prayers for goddess Durga (Durga Puja) as “morally inappropriate” and stating “As such, APPROVAL IS NOT GRANTED to host this event” (October 12-17). There seemed to be no mention of COVID-19 risks in this denial letter. In another letter on September 29, he apologized for comments in the earlier denial letter stating: “The reason for the non-approval was based on the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with gatherings of people”.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled; Rajan Zed noted.
Zed further said that existence of different faiths showed God’s generosity and bountifulness. Different religions were simply different human responses to the one ultimate Reality. Despite our seriously different traditions, we all should learn from each other and live harmoniously together in mutual trust, loyalty and peace as we were headed in the same direction, Zed stated.
In Hinduism, highly revered goddess Durga is considered savior of the world from evil. “Durga Puja” (worship of the Goddess) festival is held in her honor.