Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Texas-based New Braufnels Brewing Company to withdraw its beers, Shiva’s Tears, Shiva’s Wrath and Cosmic Dancer because they misappropriated the religion’s imagery for commercial gain.
The brewery describes Shiva’s Tears beer as “a study in sinful grace and ultimate power” and “our pathway to beer truth" and calls Shiva’s Wrath, an Eisbock-condensed version of Shiva’s Tears “cosmic destruction in a glass”.
Zed said Lord Shiva “was highly revered in Hinduism and he was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines”.
“Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled,” he said, adding that with roughly 1bn followers, Hinduism "should not be taken frivolously".
New Braufnels is the latest in a series of international brewers to face criticism from Zed over beer branding.
The self-proclaimed statesman previously slammed Belgian brewery The Musketeers over the labelling of its Jack’s Precious IPA, which featured the deity Lord Ganesh carrying a chef’s knife in one hand, a sausage in the other and wearing the company’s trademark.
Speaking to The Morning Advertiser (MA) at the time, a brewery spokesman said The Musketeers had been surprised at Zed’s reaction.
“It was never our intention to abuse the symbol. Instead of insulting them, it was actually an ode to the Indian elephant as a symbol,” he said.
Inspiration for the Jack’s Precious IPA branding had come from the story of an elephant called Jack who was killed after Ghent Zoo closed in the early 20th century and turned into sausages.
Following that, Zed set his sights on Spanish brewery Ibosim BrewHouse for creating branding that depicted Shiva and fellow gods Kali, Ganesh and Hanuman, denouncing the company’s use of Hindu imagery as “mercantile greed”.
Ibosim BrewHouse offered a swift apology and listed the offending brews as “no longer in production”.
Should breweries stay away from using religious iconography in their branding?
Yes, it's offensive41%
No, it's only beer51%