A Hindu Goddess Arrives To Bless Embassy Row

Play associated audio

Embassy Row — otherwise known as Massachusetts Avenue — in Washington, D.C., is decorated with flags of every nation, flying in front of impressive embassy buildings.

In front of the embassies, there are often statues of national heroes. Winston Churchill graces the grounds of the British Embassy. Outside the Indian Embassy, Mahatma Gandhi looks as though he's in full stride, clad in loincloth and sandals.

And now, there's a Hindu goddess. Saraswati just arrived. She stands in a garden in front of Indonesia's embassy, glowing white and gold, with her four arms upraised.

Indonesian Ambassador Dino Patti Djalal says the goal was to stand out from the other embassies.

"I think this is exactly what we wanted to do with Massachusetts Avenue," he says, "add something that would jazz it up."

Saraswati is the goddess of learning and wisdom, Djalal says. At her feet are three children studying. It was crafted by three Balinese sculptors in three weeks.

Her expression is beatific. "This would be the same expression that you would see in Hindu goddesses throughout Bali," Djalal says. "A face of calm ... blessing those who are seeing her."

Although Indonesia is home to the largest population of Muslims in the world, Djalal chose a symbol of the Hindu religion for the embassy in Washington.

"One of the most famous, if not the most famous, islands in Indonesia is Bali," he says. "And Bali is a Hindu enclave in Muslim-majority Indonesia. And I think it says a lot about our respect for religious freedom that the statue in front of the country with the largest Muslim population is a Hindu statue."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


'Steve Jobs': As Ambitious As Its Title Character

Danny Boyle's new biopic, Steve Jobs, is a look at the man who made Apple mean computers, not fruit. NPR film critic Bob Mondello says it's an invigorating story told in three acts of crisis.

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

The bees that pollinate crops are on the brink of collapse. One big reason why: a virus-carrying mite. Now, researchers think a rare fungi could boost bees' immune system and attack the mite itself.

Hillary Clinton Holds 'Tough, Candid' Meeting With Black Lives Matter Activists

NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks with DeRay McKesson of the group, "We The Protesters," about the meeting with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C., Friday.

Volkswagen Faces Uphill Battle In Repairing Tarnished Reputation

Volkswagen faces two enormous repair jobs: fixing its polluting diesel cars and its battered reputation. Both may be much harder to fix than anything other scandal-plagued car companies have faced.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.