Why Hindu Nationalists are PISSED About the Name of a Lion

A well-known Hindu nationalist organization went to court to prevent two lions named after a 16th-century Mughal emperor and a Hindu deity from sharing a zoo enclosure in the state of West Bengal.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a prominent Hindutva organization, has filed a petition in a court in West Bengal after hearing reports that a lioness named Sita, after the Hindu goddess and consort of Rama, had been put with a lion named Akbar.

Akbar was the third Mughal emperor who reigned from 1556 to 1605 and extended Muslim rule throughout much of the Indian subcontinent, a time many Hindutva groups, including the VHP, consider to have been a period of slavery.

Sita cannot stay with the Mughal emperor Akbar,” Anup Mondal, a VHP official, said on February 18th, arguing that putting the two lions together in the same enclosure would offend religious sentiments in the Hindu-majority country.

Such an act amounts to blasphemy and is a direct assault on the religious belief of all Hindus,” the VHP said after lodging a plea on February 16th calling for a name change.

Mondal said the lion called Akbar had been previously named Rama after the Hindu deity when he was in the neighboring state of Tripura, which is controlled by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

But the lion’s name was changed after he was transferred to a zoo in West Bengal, which the opposition Trinamool Congress party controls. A West Bengal forest department official, Dipak Kumar Mandal, said, “The lion and the lioness are now kept separately.” Nevertheless, the VHP petition also called for a ban on using religious names for animals in zoos.

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