India lodges protest with Australia over deities eating lamb ad

India has lodged a formal complaint over an advertisement for lamb meat that showed the Hindu god Ganesha eating meat. PHOTO: REUTERS

CANBERRA - India has lodged a diplomatic protest with Australia over a television advertisement depicting the Hindu god Ganesha enjoying lamb, reported the BBC.

In the advertisement, figures from several religions, including Jesus and Buddha, are depicted having a meal together.

The footage has angered the Hindu community in Australia, because Ganesha is not usually portrayed as eating meat.

The High Commission of India in Canberra said it had made a "demarche", or diplomatic protest, to three Australian government departments.

It also urged the group behind the advertisement, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), to withdraw it because many people thought it was "offensive and hurting their religious sentiments".

"A number of community associations have also registered their protest with government of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia," the high commission said in a statement.

Australia's Advertising Standards Bureau said the advertisement had attracted more than 30 complaints relating to "a number of faiths".

The Hindu Council of Australia said it was a "crude and deplorable attempt" to use images of Ganesha to promote lamb consumption.

One online petition to ban the advertisement has attracted more than 4,400 signatures.

Australian Kapil Sachdeva told the BBC he had started the petition after seeing widespread anger on social media.

The advertisement was also considered insensitive as it was released days after the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which celebrates Ganesha's birthday.

The MLA defended the advertisement last week, saying it had aimed to promote diversity and unity.

"The campaign features gods, prophets and deities from across a wide range of religions alongside atheism, in a clearly fantastic nature, with the intent of being as inclusive as possible," spokesman Andrew Howie said in a statement.

"Our intent is never to offend, but rather acknowledge that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures and capture how the world could look if people left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms, and minds."

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