Congleton (Cheshire, England) based microbrewery Cheshire Brewhouse apologized and agreed to remove sacred Hindu symbol “Om” from its beer labels after Hindus protested, calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Shane Swindells, Head Brewer and Owner of The Cheshire Brewhouse, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed who spearheaded the protest, wrote: I now understand the Offence caused by Using the OM on our labels, & will therefore remove this from our beer labels, on all future runs. Please accept my humble apology, not offence was ever intended.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Cheshire Brewhouse for understanding the concerns of Hindu community which thought associating “Om” with such a product was highly insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that companies should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had an understanding of the feelings of customers and communities when introducing new products or launching advertising campaigns.
Zed had said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.
In Hinduism, “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, is used to introduce and conclude religious work. Usually considered the most powerful mantra, Om has been equated with brahman, isvara, atman, etc. It was highly trivializing to place such a sacred symbol on a beer-bottle, Rajan Zed had stated.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 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, Zed had noted.
Single bottle of these objectionable labels carrying beers, both “Heritage” India Pale Ales with ABV 6.8% and ABV 6.4%, was priced at £5 each. With recipes claimed to be dating from the early 1800’s, both are stated to be “Vegan & Vegetarian-friendly” and provide high bitterness.
This awards-winning artisan craft brewery, established in 2012, whose tagline is “Craft Beer From Cheshire That’s Far From Plain”; besides a taproom, also sells beer online. It claims to use “animal-free process”.