Brewery removes ‘sacred’ symbol from packaging following Hindu protest

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Beer labelling: Hinduism group president Rajan Zed has criticised the use of the Om symbol on beer
Beer labelling: Hinduism group president Rajan Zed has criticised the use of the Om symbol on beer
A Congleton-based brewery has apologised and agreed to remove Hindu symbol ‘Om’ from the label on its Govinda beer after protesters called it “highly inappropriate”.

The Universal Society of Hinduism president Rajan Zed, who led the protest, said he received an email from The Cheshire Brewhouse owner and brewer Shane Swindells of apology because “no offence was ever intended”.

Zed thanked The Cheshire Brewhouse for understanding the concerns of the Hindu community, which thought associating Om with such a product was “highly insensitive”.

He suggested companies should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so they had an understanding of the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns.

Zed added that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities, concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was “not OK as it hurt the devotees”.

In Hinduism, Om is the mystical syllable containing the universe and is used to introduce and conclude religious work, including prayers, chants and meditation.

It is usually considered the most powerful mantra and Zed said it was “highly trivialising to placed such a sacred symbol on a beer bottle”.

The Cheshire Brewhouse owner and brewer Shane Swindells confirmed the company had agreed to remove the Om symbol from future runs of beer following Zed’s complaint.

He outlined that the business has brewed its beer Govinda for six years and Zed’s complaint was the first one it had received.

He added that when the symbol was put on the bottle label, the brewery was not aware of its significance in any religion but now this has been brought to its attention, it will stop using it on its products.

The beer is a niche product brewed to an original 1840s recipe, originally brewed in Burton-upon-Trent and is made with an heirloom barley malt variety – Chevallier – Swindells said.

He also highlighted that Chevallier was grown commercially from 1822 to 1934 and this type of beer was shipped to India to quench the thirsts of the English Raj and was the reason the brewery used an Indian name for it.

The Om symbol was just an Indian symbol to fill a space and Swindells said he was unaware of its significance to any religion.

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