Indian officials are protesting an American television host's joke that referred to the Sikh religion's holiest shrine.
During his late night show last week, Jay Leno showed a photo of the ornate Golden Temple in the Indian state of Punjab, joking it was the summer home of U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The joke was in reference to Romney's wealth.
The comment outraged Sikh groups in India, and prompted Indian officials to take up the issue with the U.S. government.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that Leno's comments are protected in the United States as free speech and that they appeared to be "satirical in nature."
India has also lodged a complaint with NBC television network, which airs Leno's show.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.