Hindu groups in Australia have held peaceful demonstrations against a controversial advertisement which they described as “insulting” to their faith for featuring Lord Ganesha in a lamb roast along with several other deities and prophets. The protests came after Australia’s advertising watchdog dismissed complaints filed by Hindu groups against the advertisement launched earlier this month by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
The community members yesterday organised rallies in major Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane against the advertisement. According to Kushagra Bhatnagar of Overseas Friends of BJP (Australia), the demonstrations were held to create awareness about Lord Ganesha.
“Lord Ganesha is a vegetarian and ladoos is what we should offer not lamb,” Bhatnagar said. In Melbourne, demonstrators offered ladoos to the people at Federation Square. In Sydney, several Hindus formed a human chain to express their angst. The demonstrators held placards reading “Stop insulting Hindu Gods”.
The protests were Organised by Hindu Council of Australia and other Hindu organisations. Indian Forum Australia (IFA) president Nihal Agar said the advertisement had hurt the sentiments of Hindus and the protests were held to express anger, frustration and disappointment with the MLA.
“This is not the multicultural Australia that we truly love,” he said. Earlier this month, India’s High Commission in Canberra lodged a complaint with the Australian government asking for the ad’s removal.
However, Australia’s Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) said while many Hindus are vegetarian, vegetarianism is not a requirement of the faith. It said the depiction of Lord Ganesha was “simply symbolic of the Hindu faith and his inclusion is part of the message of an inclusive multi-faith meal”.