India is to formally object to a joke by US TV host Jay Leno in which he said that the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine for Sikhs, was a summer home for wealthy presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Minister Vayalar Ravi termed the gag by "The Tonight Show" host as "quite unfortunate and quite objectionable" and said the Indian embassy in Washington would raise the issue, the Press Trust of India reported on Monday.
In a dig at Romney's privileged background during a show last week, Leno used a photo of the ornate Sikh shrine in the northwestern Indian city of Amritsar during a segment on the vacation homes of US Republican presidential candidates.
Angry members of the Sikh community in the US circulated an online petition protesting the "derogatory depiction" of the Golden Temple, adding that "Jay Leno's racist comments need to be stopped right here".
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Ravi said he had not watched the show himself but that the Sikh community in the US had lobbied him to take action against it.
"Freedom does not mean hurt the sentiments of others... This is not acceptable to us and we take a very strong objection for such a display of an important place like Golden Temple," Ravi was reported to have said.
The petition has currently garnered about 2,000 signatures. Leno, the producers of "The Tonight Show" and NBC, the channel which airs the programme, have yet to comment on the matter.