KitKat: 'God-themed' wrappers 'insult to the deities' spark outcry in India

Nestle sparked an online outcry over their new Hindu edition KitKat travel range that feature god-themed wrappers.

Nestle has discontinued a unique line of KitKats in India that included images of influential Hindu deities on the packaging after religious emotions were allegedly harmed. The limited-edition KitKat chocolate bar was introduced as part of the global ‘KitKat travel breaks’ series. The series featured photographs of artwork created by local artisans on the wrappers.

However, pictures of Hindu deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Mata Subhadra in the Indian version of the range sparked an internet outcry. The edition included artwork created to highlight the crafts of the Indian state of Odisha.

Hurt sentiments

Many people were outraged that the wrappers could end up in dustbins, drains, gutters, or be stomped underfoot, disrespecting the gods and the Hindu faith. The KitKat wrapper with a picture of Lord Jagannath recently gained attention, eliciting mixed comments on social media. With the development of Hindu nationalism in India, there has been an increased sensitivity to how the Hindu faith is depicted in the public realm.

There have been a lot of instances where novels, films, TV series and ads have hurt religious sensibilities. In light of the present situation, people in India tweeted and said,

Kindly remove the pictures...they might even get stepped on unintentionally.
Odisha culture and Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra on Kitkat, but throwing the wrappers in a dustbin or stepping on them accidentally would be an insult to the deities.

Nestle has withdrawn the KitKat range from the market as a pre-emptive measure. It is not the first time Nestle's KitKat travel collection has gotten them in trouble. Nestle apologised last year for packaging that wrongly showed Lamjao National Area as being in Meghalaya rather than Manipur. It also included a red panda, which is not found in the park.

No hard feelings

According to Nestle, the bars were introduced to highlight the culture. However, the business has subsequently apologised and withdrew the bar range. KitKat travel break packs are supposed to showcase lovely local destinations. Last year they celebrated Odisha's culture with graphics on wrappers representing Pattachitra, a vibrant art form. However, Nestle has cleared that they have no intentions of hurting people’s feelings.

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 and its artisans. We do understand the sensitivity of the matter and regret if we have inadvertently hurt people's sentiments.
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