Goddess tattoo angers Hindu zealots
Angry Hindus threatened to ‘skin’ a young Australian visitor to India after they spotted an ‘offensive’ tattoo on one of his shins.
The image 21-year-old Matthew Gordon chose to have inked on the leg depicts fertility goddess Yellamma – and this prompted around a dozen right-wing Hindu nationalists target the tourist and his girlfriend Emily Kassianou, 20, in the southern city of Bangalore at the weekend.
The activists said the tattoo offended their religious sentiments, and they ordered him to remove it.
Gordon told police that the men had threatened to skin his leg if he did not remove the tattoo. He said:
I was relieved to see a policeman, but much to my shock he started to blame me, and said: ‘This is India and we are insulting Hindus’.
He then took me to the station … we were forced to sit there for three hours. They let me go only after I gave an apology saying I will cover this tattoo.
Tensions between Gordon and the activists eased only after he wrote a letter of apology addressed to a local police inspector in which he agreed to hide his tattoo while in India.
Police said yesterday they had obtained CCTV footage of the incident and were taking it seriously. Bangalore deputy police commissioner Sandeep Patil was quoted here as saying:
We will act against them [the activists] if they are guilty.
Gordon, a law student, said he had a strong attachment to the Hindu faith after spending three years in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
He said he had another tattoo on his back of the Hindu elephant god, Ganesh, that took 35 hours to complete.
These tattoos mean a lot to me. I’m not sporting them because of their exoticism. I know the mythology and the values of the gods inked on me.