Hindus seek New York Mayor’s Apology over School Principal depicted as Goddess

Rajan Zed

NEW YORK(TIP): Members of an Indian American Hindu activist group have reached out to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Education chancellor Carmen Farina for an apology following a New York Daily News report that showed a Queens junior high school principal depicted as a Hindu deity.

Rajan Zed, a Hindu activist in Nevada, in speaking of a mural that shows Junior High School 226 principal Rushell White as a multi-armed Hindu goddess, said that Hindu goddesses were highly revered in Hinduism and were meant to be worshiped in temples or home shrines and not to be used indecorously or thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects on public school premises.

He added in the June 29 statement, “Inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts and symbols for pushing selfish agenda was not okay.”

Reportedly, the school White leads has a large Hindu population. Assistant principal Dave Possner was reported to have leaked the mural to the press. The situation was compounded further when Possner, 42, of Staten Island, added that White gave him bad marks as payback for exposing the school mural.

The artwork at the South Ozone Park school also showed Possner as an outcast, tiny little man off in the distance, according to the Daily News report.

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“Mrs. White is after me for being a whistleblower,” Possner told the Daily News. “Anyone can see this is retaliation. She’s angry at me because I exposed her mural in The News.”

The mural was ordered to be hung up by White, 40, on June 23, but came down June 27 after complaints by staffers at the school.

Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that the mural was unnecessary and urged the city’s Department of Education to publish a disclaimer about this on its website along with proper explanation about Hindu goddesses.

“Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously,” Zed stressed. “No faith, larger or smaller, should be ridiculed at.”

Though seeking the apology from the mayor and education department chancellor, Zed noted that “Hindus understood that the purpose of school mural in this case apparently was not to denigrate Hinduism, but casual flirting like this sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols and hurting the devotees.”

Zed further said that Hindus welcomed educational institutions to learn more about Hinduism but take it seriously and respectfully.

Department of Education officials said they are investigating White’s role in the creation of the mural.

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