After facing backlash on social media over its ‘Mahakal’ advertisement featuring Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan, the online food delivery app Zomato Sunday (August 21) issued a “sincerest apology” and withdrew the ad.
In the advertisement, Roshan says he felt like having a “thali” (food platter) in Ujjain so he ordered it from “Mahakal”.
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Many on social media said Zomato’s ad was mocking the famous Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Many slammed Zomato using hashtags “Boycott Zomato” and “Zomato Insults Mahakal” on Twitter.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India.
MP Home Minister reacts
After priests of the temple objected to the ad, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said he has directed police to look into the matter.
Prima facie, the advertisement video being circulated on social media seems morphed, Mishra told reporters in Bhopal on Sunday.
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Two priests of the famous temple had on Saturday demanded that Zomato withdraw the advertisement, claiming that it offends Hindu sentiments.
After the backlash on social media, Zomato issued an apology and said the ‘thali’ reference in the ad was about ‘Mahakal Restaurant’ in Ujjain and not about the famous temple.
“We deeply respect the sentiments of the people of Ujjain, and the ad in question is no longer running. We offer sincerest apologies, for the intent here was never to hurt anyone’s beliefs and sentiments,” it said.
“The Hrithik Roshan-starrer ad that ran in specific pin codes of Ujjain referenced ‘thalis’ at ‘Mahakal Restaurant’, and not the revered Shree Mahakaleshwar Temple. Mahakal Restaurant is one of our high-order-volume restaurant partners in Ujjain, and thali is a recommended item on its menu.
“The video is part of a pan-India campaign for which we identified top local restaurants and their top dishes based on popularity in each city. Mahakal Restaurant (simplified as ‘Mahakal’) was one of the restaurants chosen for the campaign in Ujjain,” it said.