An ad that sought to promote lamb as a meat that brings all religions to the table backfired, outraging Hindus across the world.
The Australian ad, “You Never Lamb Alone,” depicted the Hindu god Ganesha eating lamb at a table with gods and prophets of multiple other religions, which angered Hindu protests in Australia and the U.S., according to The Conversation. The High Commission of India issued a formal complaint to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Communication and Arts and the Department of Agriculture concerning the ad.
Hindus believe the elephant-headed Ganesha is the son of Shiva, one of the most prominent gods in the Hindu pantheon, and invoke him as the remover of obstacles. Not all Hindus are vegetarian, but many Hindus believe that offering meat to Ganesha violates the principle of ahimsa, described in Hindu scriptures as the concept of not deliberately harming any living being.
The Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed the complaints levied against Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), which published the ad. MLA praised the bureau’s decision, but issued a statement Tuesday clarifying the inclusive intent of the commercial.
“There was never an intention to offend, rather we wanted to ensure that we were as inclusive as possible. To this end, those religions that don’t typically eat red meat are not shown consuming lamb in the advertisement, but are still invited to the table,” MLA’s statement read.
The spokesman for the Indian Society of Western Australia, Nitin Vashisht, told ABC News that the ad’s depiction of one of Hinduism’s most revered gods was incredibly offensive, not only for showing Ganesha eating meat but also for using the god as a marketing ploy.
“[He is a] vegetarian teetotaller, and that’s really god for us and most of the Indian community,” Vashisht said. “He is shown as … eating lamb and looking for a new marketing strategy for himself [and that] is really very insensitive to the community.”
“There is no Indian prayer … [that does not] start with invoking Ganesha first, and there is no Indian temple — it doesn’t matter for whichever god — which [doesn’t have] a Ganesha in there,” Vashisht said.
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