Politics

Republican Party Apologizes to Hindu Community Over Lord Ganesha Ad in U.S.

The Republican Party in Fort Bend in Texas apologized after its Ganesha-themed ad in a local community newspaper sparked controversy.

By

A recent advertisement by the Republican Party in Fort Bend County to wish Hindus on the occasion of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival sparked an uproar, forcing the party to issue an apology.

“The ad was meant to be part of the celebration and acknowledge the occasion. The ad was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way,” the party said in a statement. “We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent.”

The advertisement, featuring an image of the elephant-headed Hindu god was placed in the India Herald newspaper on Sept. 12, a day before Ganesh Chaturthi. It aimed to gather support for the party, which uses the image of the elephant as a mascot, by comparing it with the Democrat Party’s donkey logo.

“Would you worship a donkey or an elephant? The choice is yours,” the ad said.

Several members of the Hindu community in the area said they found the ad inappropriate and offensive.  

“While we appreciate the Fort Bend County GOP’s attempt to reach out to Hindus on an important Hindu festival, its ad – equating Hindus’ veneration of the Lord Ganesha with choosing a political party based on its animal symbol – is problematic and offensive,” Rishi Bhutada, a board member of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Fort Bend County resident, was quoted as saying by the news portal anc13.com. 

Others also took to the social media to express their displeasure.

In a statement on Sept. 19, Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairman Jacey Jetton said that the ad was placed in “celebration” of the festival.  The statement added: “The ad was meant to be part of the celebration and acknowledge the occasion. The ad was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way. As the party’s first Korean-American Chairman, I have seen successful party outreach and understand the complexities of those efforts. This ad was created with input from those of Hindu faith so that we could properly pay respect to the sacred festival. This highlights the difficulty in outreach that can be positive for one group but not for another in the same community. We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent.

It is our goal to build understanding and relationships with all of the different communities in Fort Bend County so that we can best convey our ideas and values. We welcome all those who are willing to be part of that process.” 

The United States is home to a large number Asian Americans, who comprise almost 20 percent of the population.

The depiction of Hindu god Ganesha has sparked controversies several times in various countries, including Japan, Australia and the United States. Individuals as well as organizations have had to issue apologies and withdraw products or images after the Hindu community lodged protests.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *