Australian brewery apologizes over Hindu deities on beer labels

SYDNEY Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:37am GMT

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian brewery has apologized for using images of Hindu deities on its alcoholic ginger beer bottles after the labels provoked outrage from Hindu devotees.

Brookvale Union Brewery's line of ginger beer carried a composite picture of the face of the Hindu deity Ganesh juxtaposed with the body of the goddess Lakshmi, while other religious motifs appear in the background.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said the labels were "highly inappropriate", and called for their immediate removal.

"We're lovers, not fighters, we want to make it right," the brewery said in an apology. "With recent feedback brought to our attention, we will be looking at design options for our bottles."

The company said it had used the images to compliment the drink's "flair, feel and colors of the Asian continent".

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world with about 1 billion followers. It is the main religion in India.

"Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi were highly revered in Hinduism and they were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines, and not to be used in selling beer," Zed said.

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Robert Birsel)

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