Arkansas rejects proposal for statute of Hindu deity Hanuman on grounds of state legislature

Earlier this year a law was passed to allow a statue of the Ten Commandments erected

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The Independent US

Officials in Arkansas have rejected a request to place a statue of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman on the grounds of the state legislature.

The Universal Society of Hinduism and a number of other organisations had floated proposals for putting up their own monuments after the Arkansas General Assembly passed a law earlier this year to erect a Ten Commandments statue, the Associated Press said.

The Hindu group, an organisation that has just one full-time staff member and yet possesses a knack for securing media publicity, released a statement on Friday saying it was considering sending its request to Governor Asa Hutchinson, who signed the Ten Commandments statue law in April.

Activists wanted the statue to go on the grounds of the capitol building in Little Rock

Rajan Zed, a former Postal Service manager in Reno, Nevada, and the society’s only full-time staff member, frequently launches campaigns to promote Hinduism in the US, but also to block non-religious use of Hindu imagery.

Earlier this year he led opposition to a New York store selling chocolate bars of Ganesh, the Hindu deity that exists in the form of an elephant.

“If permitted, we planned to make it big and weatherproof,” Mr Zed wrote of his plan for the monument in Little Rock.

“Besides honouring the Arkansas Hindus, this statue would raise awareness of Arkansans about Hinduism, the oldest and third-largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought.”

During the debate over the Ten Commandments statue legislation, supporters argued that it was not a religious monument, but instead highlighted the historic importance of the commandments as a legal document, the AP said.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court outlawed a similar Ten Commandments display from appearing at the Oklahoma Capitol in late June.

The Satanic Temple, which advocates the separation of church and state, had been pushing for an eight-and-a-half-foot-tall bronze statue of Baphomet, which depicts Satan as a goat-headed figure with horns, hooves, wings and a beard, at the Oklahoma Capitol.

The rejection of Mr Zed’s proposal came in  the form of a letter, telling the group to submit an application to the Arkansas State Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission, which has jurisdiction over such requests.

A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, Chris Powell, said the Universal Society of Hinduism was the only group that had sent a formal proposal for a statue.