New Delhi: A furious backlash in India has forced Nestle to discontinue a range of KitKat bars covered by wrappers with images of Hindu gods on them, the Daily Mail reported.
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, the report said.
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 posted.
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 The company has since issued an apology, and withdrawn the bar range.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 We had already withdrawn these packs from the market last year.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 and its artisans. We do understand the sensitivity of the matter and regret if we have inadvertently hurt people's sentiments."
The KitKats bars that proved offensive to the Hindu population were originally circulated in Odisha.
Nestle is the latest in a string of companies that have had to apologise to the Hindu community in recent times.
Jewellery brand Tanishq had issued an apology in 2020 and withdrawn its campaign featuring what appeared to be a Hindu daughter-in-law of a Muslim family.
Companies including Zomato, Unilever and Manyavar have also sparked similar controversies in recent years, the report said.