BUDDHA-shaped candles were taken off the shelves in Gwent stores because of complaints they could be seen as offensive.

Annemarie Murray, bought one of the black candles and, because she liked it so much, returned to Homebase in Chepstow to buy another.

But she was shocked when a member of staff told her they could no longer sell them.

"The girl said they had been withdrawn," said Mrs Murray, a fitness instructor in Chepstow.

"Several people had complained that it was burning an effigy of Buddha. I'm so incensed - it's ridiculous."

A spokesman from Homebase said the candles, around eight inches high, were removed from all their stores following complaints from members of the Buddhist community across the UK.

But the mother of three, who has spent time in the largely Buddhist Thailand, said: "Buddhists are lovely, I can't imagine it's them complaining.

"It's people with nothing better to do."

Mrs Murray, 41, of Bream Road, St Briavels, bought a candle to go next to the fireplace in her living room and wanted another one to go on the opposite side.

She was stunned to be told they were no longer on sale.

She said: "We've gone made in this country. Where does it stop?"

But local Buddhist Shezer Khandro, an ordained practitioner from Caldicot, said although she did not make a complaint about the candles, she understands why they could cause offence.

"It would not be something I would have in my house," she said. "I revere the Buddha as an enlightened being.

"I can see why people would find it offensive. I wouldn't chose to burn the Buddha."

A spokesman from Homebase said: "This action was taken after we received a handful of complaints from members of the Buddhist community around the UK who felt that the candles were offensive.

"It was certainly not Homebase's intention to cause any offence to followers of the Buddhist faith and we did not intend to demean the Buddhist faith in any way.

"We have apologised to those individuals who expressed their concern and who brought this to our attention."