India protests to Australia over 'goddess' swimwear

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The Independent Culture

India said Wednesday it had lodged a complaint with the Australian government over swimwear carrying the image of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi that has sparked protests.

India had conveyed "deep concern to the Australian High Commission in New Delhi asking that all concerned be apprised of the Indian religious sensitivities in the matter", a foreign ministry statement said.

"The issue was similarly taken up by our Consulate General in Sydney with the fashion designer."

The swimsuits and bikinis with portraits of Lakshmi, the goddess of light, prosperity and fertility, were designed by Australian fashion house Lisa Blue and displayed during a fashion week in Sydney last week.

The photographs of the swimwear triggered protests in India with Hindu groups in the northern state of Punjab burning Australian flags and photos of the swimwear in the streets.

In a statement, Lisa Blue promised to halt production immediately and apologised for any offence the design may have caused.

"This range will never be available for sale in any stockists or retail outlets anywhere in the world," the statement said.

"We apologise to the Hindu community and take this matter very seriously."