By Anastasia Dujmovic
On September 11, India lodged a diplomatic protest with Australia over an advertisement by Australia’s Meat & Industry (MLA) showing a Hindu god consuming lamb.
The advert portrayed many different religious figures including Jesus, Buddha, and Ganesha enjoying a meal together, which included meat. However, Hindus grew angry because Ganesha is recognized as a vegetarian in the Hindu faith.
Indian Society of Western Australia spokesman Nitin Vashisht told ABC Australia he thought the ad was insensitive.
Vashisht, said, talking about the MLA, “I don’t think they realize how revered a God Ganesha is within the Hindu community and by and large the Indian community.”
People also expressed outrage on social media. “Ridiculous advertisement by Meat & Livestock Australia. Respecting others faith & culture is often ignored to create controversy and their few minutes of fame,” Karthik Arasu posted on MLA’s Facebook page.
The High Commission of India in Canberra made a petition for Australia to have MLA withdraw the advertisement and apologize because people considered it offensive. Another online petition by Australian Kapil Sachdeva gathered more than 4,400 signatures. Sachdeva told the BBC he started it after seeing widespread anger on social media.
MLA defended their TV advert and said their intent was “never to offend”, reports ABC Australia. MLA group marketing manager Andrew Howie said their intent for the campaign was to promote unity and diversity.
According to ABC Australia, Howie said, “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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Image source: http://www.abc.net.au, A still of Ganesh from the Australian advertisement.