Hindu Gods Shown on Beer Labels

Brookvale Union Brewery, an Australian brewing company and Asheville Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina have come under scrutiny for depicting religious Hindu deities on its beer bottles.

Brookvale Union’s Ginger Beer label features juxtaposed images of Hindu deities, Ganesh and Lakshmi, while Asheville Brewing’s “Shiva” Indian Pale Ale beer, displays Lord Shiva’s image on its label. Some say this was a careless disregard for Hindu deities and other people’s religious beliefs.

President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, was very offended by the choice for packaging design. “Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi were highly revered in Hinduism and they were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines, and not to be used in selling beer,” Zed said. Zed is asking Asheville Brewing Co. to stop selling the beer depicting Shiva and issue an apology.

Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist leaders are also siding with Zed and voicing their concerns, as reported in a follow-up message issued today.

Asheville Brewing Company’s co-owner, Mike Rangel, says they’re using the Shiva image “sensitively,” following guidance from local and state Hindu leaders. The beer, in production since 1998, bears the Shiva name and image as an homage to its strength and power. Rangel explains:

“The last thing we want to do is appear like we’re taking advantage of a religion or anything like that. In the last two days we’ve also been contacted by locals who are Hindu. They are very supportive and feel like it’s much ado about nothing.”

Brookvale Union issued an apology, stating they did not intend to offend anyone. They added, “With recent feedback brought to our attention, we will be looking at design options for our bottles.” Their website now reflects updated packaging.

There seems to be a trend among some to use deities of Hinduism. In the past there has even been skateboards and pet/dog clothing carrying the images of Hindu deities. In 2007, a California-based website was examined for selling undergarments with images of Hindu gods. Do a Google search and you can find images of Hindu gods on everything from T-shirts, toilet seats, flip-flops, mousepads and keychains. It leaves one to wonder why these breweries were singled out. Did these brewers receive backlash because they sell alcoholic beverages?

Could the use of ancient deities on Beer Labels been used as a great marketing strategy? Is it okay to have images of gods or goddesses on products and merchandise? Where is the line drawn and who makes that decision? In this case, it was definitely one way to gain exposure for their products.

Resources

Follow the conversation on Twitter