Religious leaders urge Mandalay Bay to remove statues of Hindu, Jain deities and apologize

Local News

Picture of statues located
inside Mandalay Bay’s Foundation Room; Courtesy: Foundation Room Facebook page

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Jain religious leaders are coming together to urge the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino to remove statues of various Hindu and Jain deities from its Foundation Room night club. The leaders are calling it “highly inappropriate.”

In a joint statement today, five local religious leaders 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.”

These five leaders include 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.

Karcher, Zed, Fisher, Beyer and Jain urged William Hornbuckle and Paul Salem, Acting CEO and Board Chairman respectively of MGM Resorts International, which owns Mandalay Bay Casino, to offer a formal apology to Hindu and Jain communities “for this insensitivity.”

Statements from the leaders, from a news release sent by Rajan Zed:

“Hindu deities Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, goddess Saraswati and others 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.”

Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism

The “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. 

Sulekh C. Jain

The faith leaders further noted that they are 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,” the news release stated.

The Foundation Room is located on 63rd Floor of the Mandalay Bay.

UPDATE

Mandalay Bay issued a statement on Wednesday and pledged to remove the Mahavira statue. Officials also said they would avoid repeating such mistakes.

“The Foundation Room’s two-decade plus tradition of promoting racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and non-violence is more important than ever. We deeply apologize to those who are offended by recent images and we will work diligently to ensure such insensitive depictions don’t happen again. Specifically, we are removing the statue Mahavira from our premises.  We have always strived to promote dialogue to bring us closer together and are committed to this sentiment moving forward.”

Statement from The Foundation Room

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