Photo Credit: MLA video screengrab
A marketing campaign for lamb by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) featuring Lord Ganesha has angered Hindus in the country, with the community now protesting against the “ignorant and insensitive” ad, and asking for it to be banned.
The advertisement, titled ‘You Never Lamb Alone’, was launched by the organisation on Sept. 4. It features various religious figures like Jesus, Buddha, Noah (another character from the Bible), Greek goddess Aphrodite, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Ganesha sitting around a table for a lamb lunch.
Ganesha, the Hindu god, is depicted consuming lamb, even though he is considered a vegetarian by followers of the religion.
The Indian High Commission in Canberra released a statement saying that the ad was “offensive” and “hurt the religious sentiments of the Indian community”. The Indian mission said it had made a “démarche” to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Communication and Arts and the Department of Agriculture over the “insensitive” ad.
“The consulate general of India in Sydney has taken up the matter directly with Meat and Livestock Australia and urged them to withdraw the advertisement,” the High Commission said. “A number of community associations have also registered their protest with [the] government of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia.”
Mohit Kumar, the president of the Council of Indian Australians, told the Sydney Morning Herald: “The Indian government was reacting to the strong concerns of the Indian community.” He added: “They’re trying to nip it in the bud so it doesn’t blow out of proportion.”
The government’s intervention was welcomed by the US-based president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, but he said MLA directors Michele Allan and Richard Norton should resign for “upsetting consumers”. Ganesha should not be used in “selling lamb meat for mercantile greed,” he added.
The MLA had said that the campaign was not intended to offend but to “promote inclusivity with the idea that people from diverse backgrounds can sit around a table and share a meal together”. The campaign, it claimed, was created after extensive consultation was done by its marketing team with religious experts.
This is not the first time the Hindu god has been at the center of controversial portrayal that has hurt public sentiments. Several products and campaigns have been at the heart of debates over the years because the way they portrayed Ganesh was considered insensitive.