Kathmandu, Sep 8 (IANS) Nepal's Cable TV Association Sunday banned screening of the inaugural episode of a Zee TV serial on the life of Buddha, opposing the claim that he was born in India.
Millions of Nepali households could not watch the hour-long episode, whose broadcast began from Sunday. Other programmes of Zee TV went on as schedule.
"Yes, we have put a ban on screening the 'Buddha' today (Sunday), as we came across huge reaction against it on social sites. We thought that it may hurt the sentiments of Nepali audiences so we decided to stop screening the serial for the (sake of) social harmony," Sudhir Parajuli, chairman of Nepal Cable TV Association, told IANS.
There was huge outrage from Nepali users on Facebook and Twitter about the "Buddha" serial and its claim that the Buddha was born in India and his entire upbringing took place in the northern part of India.
The association said it had also informed the Nepal government and the Indian embassy here about its decision. The government did not react to the ban.
"We also tried to contact Zee TV officials but, due to a public holiday, we could not establish contact and inform them about our decision. We will call them again on Monday and discuss the matter," said Parajuli.
The association itself watched the episode and said it had nothing about the claim and counter-claim.
"The world knows that Buddha as born in Nepal... if we telecast the serial and went on claiming that Buddha was born in India, in terms of security perspective, we can be targeted," said Parajuli.
After the issue emerged on social media and attracted wide criticism, actor Kabir Bedi, who is playing a lead role in the serial, apologized on Twitter.
"Yes, my friends, I mis-spoke. Forgive me. Lord Buddha was certainly born in Lumbini, Nepal. My apologies to all whose feelings were hurt," he tweeted.
As the issue of the spot of the Buddha's birth has become an international issue, the Nepal government - to persuade its own citizens and world community - has decided to issue notes of denomination Rs.100, featuring Lumbini, the birth palce of Buddha featuring Ashoka Pillar on the front of the notes where it will be mentioned "Lumbini: The Birth Place of Lord Buddha".
The Lumbini site has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, which says: "The Lord Buddha was born in 623 BC in the sacred area of Lumbini located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, testified by the inscription on the pillar erected by the Mauryan Emperor Asoka in 249 BC."
Nepal is dedicatedly working on preserving the site as a holy place.