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Hindu deity in meat ad has Australia’s Hindu community fuming

Hindu deity Ganesha in the video ad released by Meat and Livestock Australia. Source: Youtube/We love our lamb

A video for the promotion of lamb meat featuring Hindu deity Ganesha has enraged members of the Hindu community in Australia and overseas who have called for taking down the campaign.

The Hindu community in Australia and overseas is upset at the Hindu deity Ganesha being featured in a video ad to promote the consumption of lamb meat.

Meat and Livestock Australia’s latest ad campaign released on Monday shows the Ganesha sitting among others gods and goddesses and prophets of different faiths coming together over lamb at a modern day spring barbecue.

While Meat and Livestock Australia says the ad positions Lamb as the meat people can eat regardless of their religious beliefs, background or dietary requirements, many people feel it has offended their cultural and religious sensitivities and have condemned it calling the ad “irresponsible” and an “assault” on the diverse cultures in Australia.

Some members of the Hindu community in Australia have called for boycotting lamb in order to get their feelings across to the MLA. Some followers of the Sikh faith which like Hinduism, originated in India- have also criticised the ad.

A social media user, commenting on MLA's Facebook page, asked for the campaign to be revoked.

"This is a disrespect to Hindu Religion, hurting our sentiments and a senseless campaign. Your team has got it to Totally wrong by implying Lord Ganesha is having Lamb at dinner table with other Gods," commented Anuj Gupta.

"For your information Hindu Gods and meat do not go together. 
I demand an unconditionally apology and you revoke this campaign immediately." 

"We strongly urge MLA to withdraw the offensive ad immediately and extend an unconditional apology to not only the Hindu-Australian but to members of all religious groups that are hurt by this nonsensical ad," the Hindu Council of Australia said in a statement. 

Rajan Zed, a US-based Hindu organisation has called for an apology from the board of the Meat and Livestock Australia. He said the MLA should understand that “love united us and brought us together and not lamb meat”.

“Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and he was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling lamb meat for mercantile greed,” Mr Zed said.

Lord Ganesha- as the Hindus refer to the deity, is worshipped as the god of wisdom and the nemesis of impediments. In the Hindu culture, the Ganesha is invoked before the beginning of any important undertaking.

Mr Zed said trivialization of a deity was disturbing to the Hindus world over.

“Hindus are for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers,” he said in a statement.

Meat and Livestock Australia says it's aim is not to offend anyone. 

"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. To achieve this we undertook extensive research and consultation, MLA's Group Marketing Manager Andrew Howie told SBS Punjabi.

“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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