Amid backlash, Zomato withdraws Hrithik Roshan-starrer ‘Mahakal’ advt, expresses apology

PTI, Aug 22, 2022, 10:31 AM IST

Representative Image (Source: Shutterstock)

Amid a row, online food delivery firm Zomato has withdrawn the advertisement featuring actor Hrithik Roshan and apologised while clarifying that the “Mahakal” reference was for a restaurant and it didn’t mean the Ujjain-based temple.

Two priests of the famous Mahakaleshwar temple in Madhya Pradesh had objected to the advertisement claiming that it offended Hindu sentiments and demanded its withdrawal.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra had issued directives to the police to look into the controversy.

In the advertisement, Roshan says he felt like having a ”thali” (food platter) in Ujjain so he ordered it from ”Mahakal”.

”The Hrithik Roshan starrer ad that ran in specific pin-codes of Ujjain referenced to ‘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,” Zomato said in a statement issued on its Twitter handle.

The food delivery firm said that the video is part of the pan-India campaign for which Mahakal Restaurant (simplified as Mahakal) was chosen in Ujjain.

“We deeply respect the sentiments of the people of Ujjain and the ad in question is no longer running. We offer our sincerest apologies, for the intent here was never to hurt anyone’s beliefs and sentiments,” Zomato added.

Earlier in the day, Home Minister Mishra told reporters that he had directed the police to look into the matter.

“Prima facie, the advertisement video being circulated on social media seems morphed. I have told Ujjain’s Superintendent of Police to look into the reality of the video and report to me so that action can be initiated against the guilty,” the home minister said.

A day earlier, two priests of the Mahakaleshwar temple had demanded that Zomato withdraw the advertisement, claiming that it offends Hindu sentiments.

The priests, Mahesh and Ashish, had also demanded an apology from the online food delivery firm.

Devotees are served ‘prasad’ on a ‘thali’ and the advertisement hurts the feelings of Hindus, they claimed.

The priests said they had also approached Ujjain Collector Ashish Singh, who is the chairman of the Mahakal temple trust, and sought action against the company so that no one mocks the Hindu religion again.

Collector Singh on Saturday termed the advertisement as ”misleading”, saying the temple offers free meals as ‘prasad’ and it is not sold.

The Mahakaleshwar or Mahakal temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is one of the 12 ‘Jyotirlingas’ in the country and attracts a large number of devotees.

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