Religious leaders urge Las Vegas casino to remove statues of Hindu and Jain deities and apologize

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Mahavira statue in Mandalay Bay (Photo: Foundation Room Facebook)
LAS VEGAS–In an interfaith gesture, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Jain religious leaders have urged the Las Vegas casino Mandalay Bay to remove statues of various Hindu and Jain deities from its Foundation Room night club, calling it highly inappropriate.
Nevada’s Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R. Karcher, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, prominent Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher, well-known Jewish Rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, and renowned Jain leader Sulekh C. Jain in a joint statement in Nevada said that placing highly revered Hindu and Jain deities to adorn a casino night-club was very disrespectful, out-of-line, and could be disturbing to the adherents of these faiths.
Lord Shiva in Nataraja form (Photo: Foundation Room Facebook page)

They urged William Hornbuckle and Paul Salem, acting CEO and Board Chairman respectively of MGM Resorts International, parent company of Mandalay Bay Casino, to offer a formal apology to Hindu and Jain communities for this insensitivity.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Hindu deities Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, Goddess Saraswati, etc. were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in a casino night club for dramatic effects or mercantile/other agenda. Such denigration of sacred deities was hurtful to the devotees.
Sulekh C. Jain stressed that pratima (statue) of Lord Mahavira belonged in a temple for veneration and not to be misused or mishandled by the patrons of a night club. He suggested that the Mandalay Bay Casino could donate it to a Jain temple and the Jain community would gladly pay for its transportation.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed noted.
Religious leaders further said that they were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers.
Description of Foundation Room, whose tagline is “Good Karma Awaits”, includes: Immerse yourself in our DEITY dancer experience; party the night away amidst the Vegas lights with these out of this world Nightlife Goddess’s; who add the perfect touch of high-class debauchery”. This “luxurious den for the city’s elite to socialize, scandalize, and sip in high style”, located on 63rd Floor of Mandalay Bay, operates from five pm to three am.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is set on 120 lush acres featuring Mandalay Bay Beach, a tropical pool paradise with real sand. MGM Resorts International is an S&P 500 global entertainment company with 29 unique hotel and destination gaming offerings in the United States and Macau.

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