KitKat bars with Hindu gods on the wrappers are withdrawn after sparking fury in India at the idea their gods would end up thrown in the bin
- A backlash among the Hindu community in India has forced Nestle to discontinue a range of KitKat bars covered by wrappers with Hindu Gods on them
- The range raised concern that the chocolate bars adorned with the images of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Mata Subhadra would be thrown away in bins and on the streets
- The colourful wrappers were introduced to ‘celebrate the culture’ said Nestle
- The company has since issued an apology and withdrawn the bar range
A furious backlash in India has forced Nestle to discontinue a range of KitKat bars covered by wrappers with Hindu gods on them.
The range has sparked worries that the chocolate bars adorned with the images of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Mata Subhadra would inevitably be thrown away in bins and on the streets.
It is only recently that the Kitkat wrapper with a picture of Lord Jagannath came into the spotlight, sparking reactions on social media.
‘Kindly remove the pictures…they might even get stepped on unintentionally,’ one Twitter user stated on social media.
Nestle India remade the wrapper of their latest Kitkat range and added pictures of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Mata Subhadra in 2021, sparking reactions on social media
Another Twitter user commented that it is an honour to have ‘Odisha culture and Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra on Kitkat, but throwing the wrappers in dustbin or stepping on them accidentally would be an insult to the deities.’
The bars were introduced to ‘celebrate the culture’, according to Nestle. The company has since issued an apology however, and withdrawn the bar range.
A Nestle spokesperson said: “We do understand the sensitivity of the matter and regret if we have inadvertently hurt anyone’s sentiment. We had already withdrawn these packs from the market last year. We thank you for your understanding and support.”
‘We wanted to encourage people to know about the art & its artisans. We do understand the sensitivity of the matter and regret if we have inadvertently hurt people’s sentiments,’ Nestle commented on the controversy in a statement.
The Kitkats that proved offensive to the Hindu population were originally circulated in Odisha, an Eastern province of India where Hindu nationalist sentiment has been growing recently.
Nestle eventually issued a longer statment saying: “Kitkat travel break packs are meant to celebrate beautiful local destinations and last year we wanted to celebrate the culture of Odisha with designs on packs representing ‘Pattachitra’, an art form uniquely identifiable by its vivid imagery.
We wanted to encourage people to know about the art and its artisans. We do understand the sensitivity of the matter and regret if we have inadvertently hurt people’s sentiments.”
The Pattachitra tradition is an art form known for its colourful and vivid adornments and imagery and often depicts Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Images like the ones used on the wrapper is part of the Pattachitra tradition, an art form known for its colourful and vivid adornments and imagery.
Nestle is the latest in a string of companies that have had to apologise to the Hindu community amid growing religious and nationalst sentiment.
Indian jewellery brand Tanishq issued an apology in 2020 and withdraw its campaign featuring what appears to be a Hindu daughter-in-law of a Muslim family.
Companies including Zomato, Unilever and Manyavar have also sparked similar controversy in recent years.
As India is seeing some of the fastest economic growth in the world, the country´s ruling party BJP seems to become increasingly wary of freedom of expression, commentators have pointed out.