Schweppes “sincerely” regrets & removes Lord Ganesha cocktail after Hindu protest

Amsterdam (Netherlands) headquartered beverage firm Schweppes International Limited (SIL) has expressed regret and removed the Ganesha Cocktail (earlier promoted on its website), after Hindus protested calling it “highly inappropriate”.

Alexis Daems, Head of SIL, in an emailed letter to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed (who spearheaded the protest), wrote: On behalf of Schweppes International Limited and Suntory Group, we fully regret the lack of consideration to anyone of the Hindu faith on the recent marketing communication that was placed on the Schweppes EU website…we sincerely regret not being more considerate to anyone of the Hindu faith.

As a result of your important and helpful feedback, we are reviewing our internal marketing compliance process, Daems added in this letter.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked SIL and Daems for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which thought name of Lord Ganesha on a cocktail was insensitive.

Rajan Zed suggested that companies like SIL and its Japan based parent Suntory Holdings Limited (SHL) 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 or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.

Rajan Zed had stated that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and he was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be converted into an alcoholic mixed drink served in a cocktail glass for sipping at the bar. Moreover, linking a deity with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful, Zed added.

SIL and SHL should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities, Zed had indicated.

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, Rajan Zed had noted.

It was deeply trivializing of immensely venerated Hindu deity Lord Ganesha to be associated with an alcoholic drink, Zed had emphasized.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

Before removal, the recipe of Ganesha Cocktail on SIL website, suggested for “anytime” occasion, included Gin spiced with Schweppes Lemon and garnished with rosemary. Schweppes was founded in 1783, and SIL markets Schweppes brand in Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. SHL, founded 1899, claims to be “a global leader in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages industry”; and Takeshi Niinami is its CEO.

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