Muslim-majority Indonesia gifts goddess Saraswati’s statue to US

Goddess saraswati at Washington DC

Goddess saraswati at Washington DC

Updated: June 09, 2013 14:07 IST

Washington: Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, has gifted an imposing 16 feet statue of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of education and wisdom, to the American Capital city of Washington DC.

The statue of goddess Saraswati on top of a lotus flower, stands tall a block away from the Indian Embassy in front of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi which was installed several years ago.

Just three per cent of Indonesian population is Hindus. Little over a mile from the Whitehouse, the statue is yet to be formally inaugurated, but has already become an attraction of city residents and the large number of tourists who visit the city every day.
“Dewi Saraswati is one of the Goddesses in Hinduism, the primarily practiced religion among Balinese people in Indonesia, which itself is the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.

Yet, her representation at the Indonesian Embassy was not decided out of only religious grounds, but more because it symbolized values that parallel with several key principles of Indonesia-US relations under comprehensive partnership, in particular education and people-to-people contact,” a spokesperson of the Indonesian Embassy told PTI.

A cultural gift from Indonesia to the city of Washington, DC, this statue began to be constructed mid-April this year by five native Balinese sculptors led by I Nyoman Sudarwa, wrapped up the job in a mere five-week period.

“Although the official inscription is yet to be honoured, the public can readily enjoy this 4.9 meter tall statue today by the entrance to the Embassy building on Massachusetts Avenue,” the spokesperson said.

Prior to its installing, the structure of the statue was built in Bali and later flown to the US Capital in early April 2013.

This steel structure was divided into three parts: upper body, lower body, and base, the latest consisting a formation of a lotus flower and a white goose.

Furthermore, instead of using bronze or stone, the sculptors opted for a mix of cement to model the body of the statue.

“At its conclusion, this statue evidently presents a strong flair of Balinese art as the sculptors put particular touches of gold on the predominantly radiant white figure, especially on the dress and head accessory worn by the Goddess,” the official said.

In the status, goddess Saraswati is depicted to be having four hands: one holds an “aksamala” (prayer beads) symbolizing the eternal process of learning; two play a “vina”(astring instrument) symbolizing arts and culture; and the last one holds a “lontar”(manuscript) symbolizing the source of knowledge.

Goddess saraswati at Washington DC

Goddess saraswati at Washington DC


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