India praises scrapping of Hindu goddess swimsuits

An Indian minister on Thursday welcomed the scrapping of an Australian swimwear line that included women's bikinis decorated with the image of a Hindu goddess.

Designer Lisa Blue outraged many Hindus by parading models in a range of bikinis and one-piece swimwear carrying the image of Lakshmi — the goddess of beauty, wealth and good fortune — during Australian Fashion Week in Sydney last week.

Hindu-majority India conveyed its "deep concern" to the Australian ambassador in New Delhi this week, its Department of External Affairs said in a statement. Indian media reported angry mobs burning Australian flags in northern Punjab state in protest.

Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said the issue was raised in discussions with his Australian counterpart Craig Emerson in Parliament House on Thursday.

"Lakshmi is a deity which is worshipped by the Hindus and using the image on a swimwear line offended the sensitivities and the religious sentiments" of Hindus, Sharma said.

"The concerned company was rightly advised and has withdrawn the line and that issue is settled because by doing so, sensitivity on this matter and the religious sentiments have been respected," he added.

Lisa Blue has apologized for any offense caused. The company said in a weekend statement that production of the swimwear had been halted and none of the offending swimsuits would be sold.

"The use of images of goddess Lakshmi was not in any way a measure of calculated risk taking, simply it was a desire to celebrate different cultures and share that through our brand," the statement said.