Houston: The ruling Republican party in the US has apologised to the Hindus after a newspaper advertisement featuring Lord Ganesha to woo the minority community voters in Texas ended up “offending” them. The advert, on the occasion of the ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’, included the imagery of Lord Ganesha with the text, “Would you worship a donkey or an elephant? The choice is yours”.
The elephant is the party symbol of the Republicans while Democrats have donkey as their party’s symbol.
The Indian-American community described the political ad of the Grand Old Party in an Indian-American newspaper as “offensive” for featuring Lord Ganesha.
The party’s county unit, Fort Bend County Republican Party which published the ad, apologised and clarified it “was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way”.
The ad, with arrows pointing to the body parts of Lord Ganesha, listed out qualities such as – ‘A BIG HEAD, TO THINK OUT OF THE BOX’, ‘BIG EYES TO LOOK BEYOND WHAT YOU SEE’, ‘LARGE EARS TO LISTEN TO OTHERS ATTENTIVELY’, ‘LARGE STOMACH, TO PEACEFULLY DIGEST ALL THE GOOD AND BAD IN LIFE’ among others.
An advocacy group, the Hindu-American Foundation (HAF) of Houston, called on the Fort Bend County Republican Party to apologise for the advert about the celebration of the ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ festival.
“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,” said Rishi Bhutada, HAF Board Member and Fort Bend County resident.
Using religious imagery in order to explicitly appeal for political support should best be avoided by any political party, he said. “The implication regarding the worship of animals as gods was also disheartening to the HAF leaders, as that is a common misconception taught in US schools, which frequently ends up becoming a taunt used to bully Hindu students,” the HAF said.
Bhutada called upon the Fort Bend County Republican Party to apologise for the offensive and inaccurate reference, not to run the ad again and for elected officials in the County to send the message to the Party.
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