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

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By: PTI | Toronto |

November 21, 2020 2:45:47 pm

A Canadian college will quickly return to India a novel statue of Hindu goddess Annapoorna that was stolen from a shrine in Varanasi over a century in the past and located its strategy to the varsity’s artwork gallery. (Representational Image)A Canadian college will quickly return to India a novel statue of Hindu goddess Annapoorna that was stolen from a shrine in Varanasi over a century in the past and located its strategy to the varsity’s artwork gallery, in an try to “right historical 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 MacKenzie’s everlasting assortment and getting ready for her exhibition, the college stated in a press release on Thursday.
The statue will quickly start its journey home following a digital repatriation ceremony held on November 19.
University’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor Dr Thomas Chase nearly met with High Commissioner of India to Canada Ajay Bisaria to formally repatriate the statue, it stated.
Representatives from the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Global Affairs Canada, and Canada Border Services Agency additionally attended the ceremony.
“We are delighted that this unique statue of Annapoorna is on her way home. I am grateful to the University of Regina for their proactive engagement for the return of this cultural icon to India,” Bisaria stated.
“The move to voluntarily repatriate such cultural treasures shows the maturity and depth of India-Canada relations,” he stated.
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 need 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 stated.
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 meals, and the soul by enlightenment, the assertion stated.
“The repatriation of the Annapoorna is part of a global, long-overdue conversation in which museums seek to address harmful and continuing imperial legacies built into, sometimes, the very foundations of their collections. As stewards of cultural heritage, our responsibility to act respectfully and ethically is fundamental, as is the willingness to look critically at our own institutional histories,” stated Alex King, Curator/Preparator, University of Regina President’s Art Collection.
When the present administration on the University and the MacKenzie Art Gallery have been alerted to the documentation which revealed the statue as an object of tradition theft, each establishments dedicated to taking acceptable motion, the varsity stated.
“As a university, we have a responsibility to right historical wrongs and help overcome the damaging legacy of colonialism wherever possible,” stated Chase.
“Repatriating this statue does not atone for the wrong that was done a century ago, but it is an appropriate and important act today. I am thankful to the MacKenzie Art Gallery, the Indian High Commission, and the Department of Canadian Heritage for their roles in making it possible,” the Vice-Chancellor stated.
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