A tweet posted by Kamal Harris’ niece, Meena Harris, became the focus of outrage from the Indian community due to its appropriation of Hindu imagery, depicting the vice-presidential candidate as the goddess of war and President Trump as a vanquished Demon.
Tweet: Kamala as the Goddess of War Riding Biden While Slaying the “Demon” Trump
Meena (Meenakshi) Harris, a lawyer who has worked on Kamala Harris’ campaigns in the past, tweeted a photoshopped image in which the vice-presidential candidate’s face was superimposed on an image of the Hindu goddess Durga wielding a trident. In the image, the lion or the goddess’ “vahana” (vehicle) she was riding was altered to have the face of Joe Biden, and President Trump appeared as a fallen and vanquished buffalo demon ”Mahishasura”.
Durga is the principal Hindu goddess of war and has a significant following all over India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Durga is revered after spring and autumn harvests, especially during the nine-night festival of Navratri which will end on Monday night.
“I am speechless, other than to say that the first day of Navratri was LIT,” Meena Harris captioned the tweet. Despite being deleted, the image, which first appeared on Whatsapp, is still making rounds on Twitter.
Dear @meenaharris and @KamalaHarris if you think you are going to win Hindu votes by mocking us, think again. This image is highly offensive and insulting to Hindus. Our Divinities are NOT cultural curios for you to mock and trivialise. And you delete without an apology? pic.twitter.com/00jijrNRih
— Shefali Vaidya. (@ShefVaidya) October 18, 2020
Though Meena’s depiction of Kamala Harris as a Hindu goddess went unnoticed by the Democratic party, Hindus universally construed it as racist.
“Your tweeting a caricature of the feminine divine, Maa Durga, with faces superimposed, deeply aggrieved many Hindus globally,” Suhag A. Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said in a tweet on Monday, adding that the image taken from Hindu culture was “misappropriated.”
Dear @meenaharris, by now you know that your tweeting a caricature of the feminine divine, Maa Durga, with faces superimposed, deeply aggrieved many Hindus globally.
To avoid such an error in judgement, for future reference, please refer to: https://t.co/yXBRCE4xcw
— Suhag A. Shukla (@SuhagAShukla) October 18, 2020
Rishi Bhutada of the Hindu American Political Action Committee (HAPAC) said the “offensive” picture was misappropriated.
“Given that, I believe that an apology should come from Meena Harris even though she did delete the tweet and no one else. Our religious iconography should not be used in the service of politics in America – I said the same when the Fort Bend County GOP did it in an ad in 2018, and it holds the same here,” Mr. Bhutada said.
Ajay Shah, the convener of American Hindus Against Defamation, said in a statement the image has offended and outraged the religious community.
“If you think you are going to win Hindu votes by mocking us, think again. This image is highly offensive and insulting to Hindus. Our Divinities are NOT cultural curios for you to mock and trivialize. And you delete without an apology?” noted author Shefali Vaidya said in a tweet.
Meena Harris responded by deleting the tweet and blocking at least some of her critics.
So much for liberal freedom of expression. @MeenaHarris
The great sister of @KamalaHarris uploads an offensive image showing Hindu Goddess Durga as her sister and when we take action he deletes and blocks me. Not unexpected of such odd day Indian & Even Day Black for vote bank. pic.twitter.com/yIQiSLc4vy
— arun pudur (@arunpudur) October 18, 2020
Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate: Religiously Ambiguous but a Magnet for Idolatry
The Democratic vice-presidential candidate’s full name is Kamala Devi Harris. The name was given to her by her mother, an intelligent woman with a Ph.D. who worked in breast cancer research. She named her “Kamala Devi” for religious reasons, as both are the names of Hindu gods. Growing up in Oakland, California, learned about Hindu mythology from her mother but after her parents divorced when she was seven, Harris attended an African American church. Harris now considers herself a Black Baptist. She is married to Douglas Emhoff, a Jewish man.
This is the second time in as many weeks that the Harris campaign has been associated with a Hindu goddess in a manner the Indian community finds offensive. Last Sunday, an Antifa protest in Boston took a disturbingly bizarre twist as protesters burned a US flag while others called out the name of the Hindu god Kali, acting out a pagan ritual human sacrifice, culminating in one protester covering himself in blood and eating a heart.