Norwegian firm withdraws Lord Ganesh beer label after Hindu protest

Ski (Norway) based Holmentoppen Bryggerhus apologized and withdrew beer label, displaying reimagined image of Lord Ganesh, after Hindu protest calling it “highly inappropriate”. 

Kurt Haugen, owner of Holmentoppen Bryggerhus, in an email to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: Your concerns came to our knowledge yesterday, and we immediately withdrew the kit in question.

We would like to bring forward our most sincere apologies. The use of this (public domain) illustration was a result of total ignorance and lack of knowledge on our part. 

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Holmentoppen Bryggerhus and Haugen for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which felt that such a display was insensitive.  

Rajan Zed had said that inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. 

Zed had indicated that Lord Ganesh was highly revered in Hinduism and he was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used as beer label in a reimagined version. Moreover, linking a deity with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful, Zed added. 

Firms selling beer-kits should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deity Lord Ganesh to be portrayed in this manner on a beer label, Rajan Zed emphasized. Zed had remarked that Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously.

Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Rajan Zed had stated. 

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as God of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.  Awards-winning Holmentoppen Bryggerhus, launched in 2013, sells beer sets; which include malt, hops and a description of the process.

One can choose to add yeast and labels (claimed to fit all current bottles and cans) to the set or whether one wants the firm to crush the malt. Other beer sets sold by the firm include “Triple Demons”, “Helles Angels”, etc.