Canada to return statue of Hindu goddess stolen over 100 years in the past from India

By: PTI | Toronto |

November 21, 2020 2:45:47 pm

Canada to return statue of Hindu goddess stolen over 100 years ago from IndiaA Canadian college will quickly return to India a singular statue of Hindu goddess Annapoorna that was stolen from a shrine in Varanasi over a century in the past and located its option to the varsity’s artwork gallery. (Representational Image)

A Canadian college will quickly return to India a singular statue of Hindu goddess Annapoorna that was stolen from a shrine in Varanasi over a century in the past and located its option to the varsity’s artwork gallery, in an try and “proper historic wrongs” and assist overcome the “damaging legacy of colonialism”.

The statue is a part of the University of Regina’s assortment on the MacKenzie Art Gallery. The statue was a part of the unique 1936 bequest by Norman MacKenzie, the gallery’s namesake.

Artist Divya Mehra introduced consideration to the truth that the statue had been wrongfully taken over a century in the past whereas going by means of MacKenzie’s everlasting assortment and making ready for her exhibition, the college mentioned in an announcement on Thursday.

The statue will quickly start its journey residence following a digital repatriation ceremony held on November 19.

University’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Dr Thomas Chase just about met with High Commissioner of India to Canada Ajay Bisaria to formally repatriate the statue, it mentioned.

Representatives from the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Global Affairs Canada, and Canada Border Services Agency additionally attended the ceremony.

“We are delighted that this distinctive statue of Annapoorna is on her manner residence. I’m grateful to the University of Regina for his or her proactive engagement for the return of this cultural icon to India,” Bisaria mentioned.

“The transfer to voluntarily repatriate such cultural treasures exhibits the maturity and depth of India-Canada relations,” he mentioned.

When Mehra researched the story behind the statue, she discovered that MacKenzie had observed the statue whereas on a visit to India in 1913. A stranger had overheard MacKenzie’s want to have the statue, and stole it for him from its authentic location — a shrine at stone steps on the riverbank of the Ganges at Varanasi, India, the varsity mentioned.

Dr Siddhartha V Shah, Curator of Indian and South Asian Art on the Peabody Essex Museum, recognized the statue because the Hindu goddess Annapoorna.

She holds a bowl of kheer (rice pudding) in a single hand and a spoon within the different. These are gadgets related to Annapoorna, who’s the goddess of meals and the queen of town of Varanasi. She is widely known by her devotees as one who nourishes and strengthens the physique by means of meals, and the soul by means of enlightenment, the assertion mentioned.

“The repatriation of the Annapoorna is a part of a worldwide, long-overdue dialog through which museums search to handle dangerous and persevering with imperial legacies constructed into, generally, the very foundations of their collections. As stewards of cultural heritage, our duty to behave respectfully and ethically is key, as is the willingness to look critically at our personal institutional histories,” mentioned Alex King, Curator/Preparator, University of Regina President’s Art Collection.

When the present administration on the University and the MacKenzie Art Gallery had been alerted to the documentation which revealed the statue as an object of tradition theft, each establishments dedicated to taking applicable motion, the varsity mentioned.

“As a college, we now have a duty to proper historic wrongs and assist overcome the damaging legacy of colonialism wherever attainable,” mentioned Chase.

“Repatriating this statue doesn’t atone for the mistaken that was achieved a century in the past, however it’s an applicable and necessary act at this time. I’m grateful to the MacKenzie Art Gallery, the Indian High Commission, and the Department of Canadian Heritage for his or her roles in making it attainable,” the Vice-Chancellor mentioned.

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