The January 8th Saturday Night Live skit, “Grady Wilson’s Tantric N’ Tasty,” contained a scene entitled “The Wrath of Ganesh,” which deeply offended many Hindus due to an enactment of the Hindu God, Lord Ganesh, replete with crude gestures, simulating a sex act. Lord Ganesh is worshiped as the Remover of Obstacles by approximately one billion Hindus around the world and is the first invoked during most, if not all, auspicious celebrations.
HAF sent a letter to Mr. Lorne Michaels, SNL’s Executive Producer, requesting an explanation and removal of the skit from on all online versions by January 31st (click here to read the letter). Despite a follow-up phone call, SNL has not replied to HAF.
Tell NBC to publish online an explanation as to its perspective regarding the deep offense caused by the skit and remove the Lord Ganesha segment on online versions and re-runs of the show.
Lord Ganesh is worshiped as the Remover of Obstacles by approximately one billion Hindus around the world and is the first invoked during most, if not all, auspicious celebrations. As with all Hindu iconography, every facet of the various depictions of Lord Ganesh are deeply symbolic. His elephant head is believed to represent both the strength of knowledge and right action. He is depicted with a large belly which is symbolic of generosity. Lord Ganesh also has a single tusk which signifies the importance of focus and discretion. Images of Lord Ganesh adorn not only Hindu temples, homes, businesses, and offices, but also those of Buddhists and Jains.
SNL’s crass and degrading use of Lord Ganesh in its skit was both insulting and disrespectful to the Hindu community at large. Skits such as the one referenced here are significantly counterproductive in presenting a balanced portrayal of a religious tradition poorly understood in the U.S. While almost “anything” may go in the realm of comedy and satire, it is our hope that producers at NBC will recognize the difference between humor that works and humor that hurts.
As one of the most widely watched television networks serving an ethnically and religiously diverse audience, we would hope that NBC more proactively exercise multicultural respect in its programming. We believe that it is incumbent upon NBC to address the concerns of the Hindu American community responsibly.