Among the many Stars who are influenced by Hinduism, Vegetarianism are the Beatles, Shirley Maclaine, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Sting, George Harrison, Goldie Hawn, Steven Seagal and many more. In the U.S. alone there are over 20 million Americans who practice yoga and meditation. HOLLYWOOD HINDUISM The cultural richness of Hinduism has always provided endless possibilities for artists and performers to enrich their creative orbit. The depth of this universal religion has prompted a large number of creative souls to borrow Hindu themes and motifs to use them liberally in their works. In many cases this has added to the quality of the creative product and benefited the Hindu heritage. But in some cases it has only resulted in the creation of tasteless spoofs and created nothing more than confusion in the minds of people. Here are a few such cases from Hollywood: Eyes Wide Shut In 1999, when the Sri Lankan Tamil Carnatic vocalist Manickam Yogeswaran was asked to chant the verses of the Bhagvad Gita in a London studio, little did he know that his recital would form the background composition to the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman lovemaking scene in Stanley Kubrick's controversial film Eyes Wide Shut. Later Yogeswaran said: "Unfortunately I had no idea about the context in which the chanting would be used. "Such an East-West fusion may be in for an ovation but on the other hand it is definitely a serious infringement on the religious sentiments of the Hindus. For the Hindus, the Gita is too sacred to be adopted for such portrayals. In the US,the Hindu organisations complained against the use of the Gita verses in the orgy scene, and demanded the withdrawal of the recital from the film. A member of South Asian Journalists Association in the US commented: "Hindu symbols and motifs are perceived as a soft target. The same artists would think real hard before causing offence to any of the Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), but no one is scared of a Hindu backlash." Holy Smoke Jane Campion's outrageous Hollywood film Holy Smoke, starring Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel had also faced a great deal of opposition from certain quarters, especially during its shooting in India, for allegedly portraying Hinduism in an immoral manner. Nine Lives In 1997, protests by thousands of Hindus and by the American Hindu Anti-Defamation Coalition forced Sony Music to withdraw Aerosmith's Nine Lives CD. The CD was based on a traditional Hindu depiction of Lord Krishna, but with a cat's face with breasts. Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom Even Steven Speilberg hasn't taken Hinduism too seriously. His Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom presents two images of woman: Woman as Clown and Woman as Demon. Taking unlimited liberties with the Hindu religion, Speilberg presents the Hindu Goddess Kali as a demon rather than goddess. She is depicted as the counterpart to Satan, enabling the evil-doers to acquire Satanic power - robbing poor villagers, causing poverty, kidnapping and enslaving children. Lord Shiva on the other hand is portrayed as an image of Christ. This depiction becomes inappropriate in the context of traditional Hindu concepts. Xena: Warrior Princess In 1999, Xena: Warrior Princess, one of the world's most popular TV serials, showed Hindu mythological characters Lord Krishna, Hanuman, Kali, and Indrajit doing things they never did in traditional tales and epics. Some thought it disrespectful; others saw it as an exposition of Hindu ideas to Western audience. Mike Myers Another instance of cultural insensitivity was aired in the April 1999 issue of Vanity Fair where photographer David LaChapelle's shot of Mike Myers posed as a cartoonish Hindu deity (as shown above) and was published as a photo spread. Public opinion on this issue has been varied. Members of South Asian Journalists Association considered it blasphemous, and many Hindus found the pictures objectionable and offensive. However, there were others who found it a spirited and friendly attempt to "cross cultural lines". Madonna Madonna At the MTV awards ceremony in 1998, Madonna had dressed a la Lord Shiva and set the fashion world agog on Indian themes. Couture houses and fashion designers have, since then, encashed a lot on this message of Madonna that India is hot. Trudie Styler At a recent fundraiser for the Tibetan Peace Garden at London's Royal Opera House pop-star Sting's wife Trudie Styler was seen wearing a skirt featuring Lord Ganesha as a design motif. This was genuinely appreciated by those Hindus who want to see India on the world stage, and obviously, there can be few for whom these uses of Hindu symbols, gods and goddesses may seem ungodly.