HomeIndian AmericanBrew companies retract Hindu deity-themed beer Aqua Shiva

Brew companies retract Hindu deity-themed beer Aqua Shiva

Two breweries based in New York withdrew a beer named “Aqua Shiva” after criticisms from Hindu activists, according to Reno Gazette Journal.

The New England-style IPA was a part of a religion-themed launch which includes other beers like “Aqua Jesus” and “Aqua Buddha.”

The illustration on the cover of the beer also featured a major Hindu deity holding a can and sitting next to a cobra and a sun.

Rajan Zed, a Hindu activist and president of the Universal Society of Hinduism led the efforts to discontinue the beer, according to Fox News. He has also previously convinced Wayfair to discontinue a beach towel mimicking Hindu deity Lord Ganesha.

“Breweries should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities,” he said in a statement. “It was deeply trivializing of divine Hindu deity to be displayed on a beer can.”

The statement also added that Lord Shiva is meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines, not branded to be sold as an alcoholic beverage.

Pressure Drop Brewing and Big Ditch Brewing Company issued a joint apology in response, stating that they recently realized the depiction of the Hindu deity on their beer was offensive to worshippers.

“We very recently became aware that our collaborative beer, Aqua Shiva, was offensive to Hindus,” Matt Kahn, president and co-founder of Big Ditch Brewing Company, said. “We deeply apologize to the Hindu community for this poor choice of our beer name and artwork.”

The companies “meant no harm,” the statement added, and will learn from it.

However, Zed added the companies should go beyond apologies. He wrote the companies should send senior executives to training about religion so they have better understanding of the cultures of the customers and the public in considering the release of new products in the future.

The appropriation of culturally significant symbols is not new. A “yoga with cows” event hosted by a British farm has sparked an online debate about whether this is culturally insensitive, according to The Huffington Post.

Responding to the event, Zed said making yogas with cows a “trendy fad” is disrespectful to his religion.

“The cow is the seat of many deities and is sacred and has long been venerated in Hinduism,” Zed told The Huffington Post. “They should not be used as a prop for human entertainment.

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