It is often said that “one should stand up for what is right.” This saying was emulated to perfection by New Jersey based emerging artist, Ankita Mishra. Recently Mishra took to social media to share one of her personal experiences, when she had to take a stand for what is right.
According to the account which Ankita Mishra shared through a blog, a month ago, she was hanging out with her friends at a club in New York, named ‘House of Yes’. However when Ankita entered the club’s washroom, she encountered some decorations that shook her to the core.
The walls of the washroom were decorated with traditional paintings of Hindu gods such as, Ganesha, Saraswati and Kali. Ankita, hailing from a Hindu family, Ankita was both shocked, as well as disgusted to see the pictures that are treated in the utmost sacred manner in majority of Hindu households across the world, being used as washroom decoration in a country that promises religious equality and liberty.
Ankita Mishra, naturally had two ways, either to ignore and walk away or to stand up for what is sacred to her people. She went the second way.
Ankita penned down a strong worded letter to the club authorities, making them aware of the sacredness of the pictures, with which they have adorned their bathroom.
“I was not proud on Saturday night. I was there with a group that had ordered a bottle service table to the side of the bar and because of the high price they were paying, I had the privilege of accessing the private bathroom behind the DJ booth by the stage. You know the one. At first when I reached for toilet paper from the dispenser, it did not register that I was looking at Mahadev. Slowly I raised my eyes to take in the room and noticed all of them– Ganesha, Saraswati, Brahma, Shiva, Radha and Krishna, Lakshmi, and inexplicably right above the toilet, Kali. I was inside a temple but it was all wrong– I was wearing shoes, I was peeing,” she wrote in her letter.
“I am going to go home to my parents house in November to celebrate Diwali, a holiday commemorating each deity featured in your bathroom. This is an active religion, practiced today. My true desire is to see the bathroom taken down. My parents would not have had the courage to stand up for what is right, but I as their daughter, do. Your mission statement is one that touts inclusivity, positivity and safety. Please don’t make me lose faith in the ability we all have to right some wrongs and truly hear each other out,” she further added
What happened next, was not even expected by Ankita. The designer of the washroom contacted her to assure that the pictures would soon be taken down. He assured that they will redesign the washroom, as soon as possible.
Kae Burke, the designer of the Washroom responded to Ankita, saying, “I am fully responsible for making the tone-deaf and completely ignorant decor choice. I am sorry for not taking the time to fully understand and research the deep history of the culture I was inspired by before using it to decorate. I feel awful that you had to experience this type of cultural disrespect at House of Yes of all places.I hear you loud and clear and the tone-deaf appropriative/offensive bathroom will be dismantled and redesigned ASAP.”
What Ankita Mishra did is very commendable and everyone should take inspiration from her. Silently witnessing your culture being ridiculed is not the way, standing up for it is.