Australian lamb advert signals outrage amongst Indians
By Kalendra Withana 
 
The Indian Government has issued a diplomatic complaint over an Australian advert which sees the Hindu god Ganesha eating lamb. 
The advert, created by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), shows several religious leaders including Buddha and Jesus eating lamb together at a dinner table. Lord Ganesha himself is culturally depicted as being a vegetarian and so the ad's feature of the God at this meat dinner has sparked controversy within the Hindu community. 
 
The High Commission of India, who coined the advert as "offensive", has conveyed a "demarche" to three government departments - Foreign Affairs, Communications and Agriculture. In a statement, The High Commission said: 
 
"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,"  
 
"A number of community associations have also registered their protest with [the] government of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia." 
 
The Australian Hindu Council expressed their opinions towards the advert by calling it a "crude and deplorable attempt" to represent Ganesha as being a deity in favour of lamb eating. The advert has been additionally criticised for being aired days after the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.  
 
It has been reported by the BBC that one online petition which seeks to ban the advert has gotten over 4,400 signatures. 
 
The MLA have however defended their work, stating that the advert's initial aim was to promote diversity and unity. In a statement, spokesman Andrew Howie said: 
 
"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,"
 
"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."
 
The company also claimed that its marketing team had contacted religious experts before creating and launching the ad. 
 
Nevertheless, the MLA do have a track record of displaying marketing campaigns that are insensitive to the public. This includes the company's representation of violence towards a vegan in a past advert and hurting the Indigenous community with how it promoted this year's Australian day. 
 
In response to the MLA, president of the Australian Hindu Council Mohit Kumar said:
 
"I can totally understand they didn't mean to offend. I accept the premise of the ad was to show people of different beliefs can come together at the same table and have a meal - no issue with that concept at all.
 
"But the execution was very poor. It's not we don't have a sense of humour, we're all Australians at the end of the day. The issue is it's a matter of respect and this is a very disrespectful and insensitive depiction." 
 
Sources - BBC News, The Sydney Morning Herald, news.co.au
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