US chat show host Jay Leno is facing a furious backlash from the Sikh community after using an image of a temple for a political joke.

He doctored a clip which showed a glimpse of Republican candidates' homes, replacing an image of Mitt Romney's house with the Sikh temple.

Romney has recently come under fire for his wealth, facing a string of tax evasion enquiries.

However the joke did not go down well in the Sikh community, which has condemned the joke on Leno's Tonight Show on NBC.

"It is quite unfortunate and quite objectionable that such a comment has been made after showing the Golden Temple," overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi told reporters.

"The temple is the Sikh community's most sacred place. Even our prime minister went there for praying in the new year."

He went on to tell the Press Trust of India that the enbassy would take up the matter with the US state department.

"Freedom does not mean hurting the sentiments of others...this is not acceptable to us and we take a very strong objection for such a display," he added.

An online petition has been launched by Sikh Bhai Harjot Singh Khasala, calling for an apology from Leno.

"That particular joke by Jay Leno involving Sikh's holiest shrine was in bad taste and hurts my religious feelings. Jay Leno must apologise and promise not to make any direct or oblique references to Sikhs or their places of worship," said signatory Simran Kaur.

"A person can't say [something] like this to hurt our emotions," said another signatory.

Leno has made no response to the complaints.

(Footage copyright NBC)