The debate over an Indian lion’s name: Symbolism or controversy? | Religion

The Calcutta High Court this week instructed the West Bengal government to consider renaming two lions in a zoo-cum-animal reserve after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) objected to their current names. The VHP found the names to be inappropriate for the Hindu nationalist organization.

The court began hearing the plea on Tuesday to change the name of a lioness named Sita, who was sharing an enclosure with a lion named Akbar at Bengal Safari Park. The VHP raised concerns due to Akbar sharing a name with a 16th-century Mughal emperor and considered it blasphemous.

Members of the VHP, affiliated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), expressed that the naming of the lions hurt religious sentiments and requested a change in the names. The lions, initially named Ram and Sita, were brought to West Bengal from Tripura and were moved to separate enclosures following the petition.

Furthermore, the court questioned the naming of animals after gods, mythological figures, and influential individuals. Naming a lioness Sita and a lion Akbar, a successful Mughal emperor, was deemed inappropriate by Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya. The case, now reclassified as public interest litigation, will no longer be heard by the bench.

Leave a Comment