Hindu protest sparks beer packaging change

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Cheshire Brewhouse's Govinda (left) and Tempest Brewing Co's India Pils (left)
Cheshire Brewhouse's Govinda (left) and Tempest Brewing Co's India Pils (left)
Cheshire Brewhouse has been forced to change the packaging of its Govinda beer, following protests from Hindus.

The Congleton-based microbrewery’s use of the Hindu symbol Om on bottles of the beer was deemed highly inappropriate by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who led the protest.

Shane Swindells, head brewer and owner of the Cheshire Brewhouse, said in an email to Zed: “I now understand the offence caused by using the OM on our labels, and will therefore remove this from our beer labels, on all future runs. Please accept my humble apology, not offence was ever intended.”

Concerns of the Hindu community

Zed, who is also president of Universal Society of Hinduism, thanked Cheshire Brewhouse for understanding the concerns of the Hindu community.

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

Zed said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not OK as it hurt devotees and was “highly trivialising to place such a sacred symbol on a beer bottle”.

Ganesha imagery

The protest came less than two months after Scottish brewery Tempest Brewing Co apologised for upsetting Hindus by using imagery of the deity Ganesha on beer packaging.

In November last year, Zed led the protest against the beer, indicating that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines, and not to be used in “selling beer for mercantile greed”.

In an email written to Zed in response to his request, founder and director of Tempest Gavin Meiklejohn, wrote: “We would like to offer our apologies to yourself and the wider Hindu community… we will remove all written references to Ganesha from our marketing of this beer and will look to change the artwork before its next release.”

Related topics Drinks Packaging & Labelling

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