While many religious groups frown up gambling as a form of entertainment, the Hindu community has taken offense not to the recreational activity itself but rather to one particular Slot game that has been deemed highly offensive due to its use of one of their gods in a Lord Shiva-themed Video Slot entitled “Shiva”.
Shiva is a 5-Reel, 50-Payline Video Slot developed by the German-based game developerMerkur Division of Espelkamp, the Gauselmann Group. It includes a host of popular features including Scatters, Wilds, Free Spins and two Gamble Features, but the theme labeled “mystic, Asian, Indian” uses images of the Hindu god, Lord Shiva, as well as culturally stereotypical images such as monkeys, cobras and the TajMahal, and can be played at numerous online casinos around the world.
According to the Updated News website in Canada, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, labeled the game as “highly inappropriate”. He went on to urge the company and its chairman, Paul Gauselmann, to make a public apology and withdraw the game from its collection. The Hindu statesmen also reminded the developers that, “Hinduism [is] the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled.”
This is not the first time this year that Zed has had to speak out against symbols and imagery of the Hindu faith being used in a trivialized manner. Brookvale Union, an Australian brewery based in New South Wales, sold a ginger beer that included images of the two Hindu deities, Ganesh and Lakshmi, in its label design, along with various other Hindu symbols. As reported by the Kemmannu News Network, Zed stated that, “Hindus were for free expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more, but faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it tormented the devotees… businesses should be respectful to various faith traditions.”
Brookvale Union were immediately contrite and offered an apology that was accepted by Rajan Zed on behalf of Hindus around the world. They released their apology in an Australian trade magazine, stating that the brewery had “apologized for any distress caused and begun the process of removing the images from the website. We’re lovers, not fighters, we want to make it right… We are now focused on redesigning the Ginger Beer which hopefully all can be happy with!”
Merkur Division of Espelkamp, the Gauselmann Group, on the other hand, has of yet not issued any comment on the offensive Slot game.