Tempest Brewery apologises after using Hindu god on label

Rajan Zed with the Tempest label which caused upset.
Rajan Zed with the Tempest label which caused upset.

A Galashiels brewery boss has apologised to the Hindu community after it was accused of using an image of the god Ganesha on the labels for one of its beers.

Tempest Brewery’s India Pils label shows the revered god with the head of an elephant, marketed on its website as “Channel your inner Ganesha and overcome all obstacles with our hoppy pilsner. Clean, cold and crisp fermentation meets juicy dry hops and refreshing bitterness. With a crisp, fruity hop flavour and great drinkability, you’ll be at peace in no time. Namaste!”.

Co-founders Annika and Gavin Meiklejohn in the Tweedbank brewhouse of Tempest Brewing Co, after being named Brewery of the Year

Co-founders Annika and Gavin Meiklejohn in the Tweedbank brewhouse of Tempest Brewing Co, after being named Brewery of the Year

This has upset some Hindus, who this morning urged Tempest to apologize and withdraw the bottles carrying the Lord Ganesha image, calling it highly inappropriate.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, based in Nevada, USA, said: “Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda is not okay as it hurt the devotees.”

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, added: “Lord Ganesha is highly revered in Hinduism and is meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines ... not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed.

“Also, linking Lord Ganesha with an alcoholic beverage is very disrespectful.”

Tempest’s co-founder Gavin Meiklejohn was quick to apologise for any upset caused, saying the image was used “in all innocence”,

He said: “Tempest Brewing Co as a whole embraces equality and diversity, therefore we are saddened to hear that our India Pils has caused upset within the Hindu community and we would like to offer our apologies, not only to Rajan Zed but the wider community as well.

“We would like to assure those who are offended and upset that our artwork was not intended to cause offense and was chosen for its stand-out colours.

“We are not the first company to have been drawn towards Ganesha, as Mercedes, Reliance Mutual, Renault and IDFC bank have also utilised Ganesha for advertising and marketing which is why, at the time, we did not think that there would be an issue, and as we were not coming at this from the direction of a religious concept, we genuinely didn’t feel that we were straying into muddy waters and took this route in all innocence.

“Our artwork has always been bold and bright, and our inspiration has always been driven from many different avenues. Our passion is to create a product that people will enjoy together, not to cause upset along the way.

“India Pils is one of our most popular beers and is already programmed into our schedule for next year.

“However, we are happy to immediately remove all written references to Ganesha from our marketing of this beer and will alter the artwork before its next release.”

Mr Meiklejohn added: “We would be eager to enter in to a dialogue with Rajan Zed to get to know and understand their side of the story.”