Hindus around the world are urging Norwegian brewery Berentsens, located in the coastal town of Egersund, to remove the image of an elephant that they claim is their Lord Ganesha from bottles of the brewery’s Bombay India Pale Ale. They call it “highly inappropriate” to use Hindu deities, concepts or symbols for commercial means.
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, released a statement this week noting that Lord Ganesha is “highly revered in Hinduism” and meant to be worshipped “in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer.” Zed and other Hindu leaders find Berentsens India Pale Ale labels offensive.
“Linking a diety with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful,” Zed stated.
Newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that the brewery in nearby Egersund on Norway’s southwest coast has been contacted by several Hindu organizations in Norway as well, but brewery leader Harald Berentsen has no intention of changing the labels.
“There hasn’t been any intention here to reflect a god (on the beer label),” Berentsen told state broadcaster NRK. “We have drawn the label with a free hand. It’s an image of an elephant head, and that’s all.”
He didn’t seem to understand why Hindus were upset and he planned to ignore the complaints. “We are confident that we are far from this god’s identity, and think it would be wrong to give in (to the calls to change the India Pale Ale labels),” Berentsen told NRK. “I have great respect for many religions, but in this case we won’t do anything now.” Any future changes, he suggested, would be a result of “naturally modernizing” the label.
Local Hindus were not satisfied. “The label on the beer bottle shows the god Ganesha, and that’s a problem,” Srinivas Konduri of the Hindu organization Develayam in Stavanger told NRK. He doesn’t believe Berentsen’s claim that the label was drawn by hand to simply depict an elephant.