Russia-Ukraine war: Ma Kali artwork to show bombing destruction has Hindus on Twitter all riled up

There is no telling if it is a real post or a deepfake, but an artwork depicting the Hindu deity Ma Kali, posted on Twitter ostensibly by the official page of the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine, has Hindu users of Twitter all riled up. The post appeared in a retweet yesterday, and has drawn predictably incensed reaction from many among the Twitterati.

The artwork puts two images together: on the left is a photo of a mushroom cloud, perhaps a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to go nuclear; on the right is a modified image of Ma Kali, unmistakable for her blue body, red tongue, and garland of skulls, but also given blonde hair and a Marilyn Monroesque skirt-flying-up pose, the skirt in this case being the cloud of smoke from the bombing. The post, whether real or fake, appears to equate the ferocious demon-slayer Hindu goddess with the Russian military, which has pounded Ukrainian cities with missiles and other explosives.

Left completely unimpressed by the artistic mind that has thought up this image, Twitter users have retaliated with artworks of their own today — one shows Ma Kali holding the severed head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and another shows Kali doing her dance of death through a battered Ukrainian city.

It is not clear if the official page (name: Defense of Ukraine; handle: @DefenceU) of the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine, really posted the Ma Kali artwork, because the account does not show the image, and it is only visible in the retweets. It is possible that the post was taken down quickly or that it was never a real post from the ministry.

For these angry users, the Twitter battle lines are clearly drawn. One user said that the artwork supposedly posted by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence “proved why the Indian public supports Russia in the #UkraineRussiaWar.” The user urged the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to take note of this. One user named Saurav Sagar tweeted: “Till date I was neutral. But now I support Russia. Go on Putin (sic).”

One angry Twitter user referred to the Nazi swastika symbol and ‘SS’ mark seen once before on Ukrainian soldiers’ helmets. Those photos had surfaced during a conflict in September 2014, when the German public broadcaster ZDF showed the helmets in a video clip aired during a news bulletin. A September 9, 2014, report on said, quoting a correspondent of TV2, the Norwegian broadcast company that had filmed the video, that the camera crew was filming a report “about Ukraine’s AZOV battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf” when they spotted those helmets on the soldiers. When asked about them, a spokesperson of the Ukrainian battalion said “we are just Ukrainian nationalists”.