Upset Hindus thank Australian brewery for apology & redesigning Ganesh-Lakshmi beer

Hindus worldwide, perturbed over Brookvale (New South Wales, Australia) based “Brookvale Union” brewery’s ginger beer carrying juxtaposed images of Hindu deities Ganesh and Lakshmi, have thanked it for apologizing and focusing on redesigning the beer.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, calling juxtaposed images of Ganesh and Lakshmi on a beer bottle “highly inappropriate”, has thanked and commended the brewery for having an understanding for the hurt feelings of Hindu community and for showing responsibility, respect and maturity by taking quick action in apologizing and announcing its redesign.

It was a step in the right direction, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted in a statement in Nevada (USA) today.

Rajan Zed further said that such trivialization of Hindu deities was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more, but faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it tormented the devotees, Zed pointed out and added that businesses should be respectful to various faith traditions.

In a statement released on November 14 and published in “Beer & Brewer” magazine from New South Wales, the brewery said: “We have subsequently apologized for any distress caused and begun the process of removing the images from the website. We’re lovers, not fighters, we want to make it right… We are now focused on redesigning the Ginger Beer which hopefully all can be happy with!” It has asked “graphic designers, artists, and even doodlers” to come up with a better design by November 24, and is reportedly urging them not to use imagery that may be deemed offensive.

"It seems we have unintentionally offended our Hindu friends with the imagery on our Ginger Beer packaging…Brookvale Union is about great tasting, fun beverages and not about disrespecting anyone or their beliefs”, statement added.

In an email to Zed on November 12, Brookvale Union wrote: “…it was not intended to cause any offence. With the recent feedback brought to our attention, we will be re-designing our bottles and packaging.”

Label at this ginger beer bottle juxtaposed image of Lord Ganesh’s face and Goddess Lakshmi’s body, besides displaying various other Hindu religious symbols.

Rajan Zed, in an earlier statement, said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi were highly revered in Hinduism and they were meant to be worshiped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed had argued.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshiped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and beauty and is also known as ‘world-mother’. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.

Brookvale Union, reportedly first founded in 1950, and said to be “always open”, defines itself as "Complex yet simple, safe but dangerous, smooth yet sharp, light but loose”. Its Ginger Beer comes in 500 mL bottles in a box of 12 and is described as "Spicy yet mild, dry but wet, smooth yet sharp, tight but loose…”.

Brookvale, a suburb of northern Sydney in Warringah Council, is part of Northern Beaches region.