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Hindus upset by Congleton beer

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Image credit: Cheshire Brewhouse

 

Upset Hindus are urging Congleton-based microbrewery Cheshire Brewhouse to apologise, after its products were branded “inappropriate” for using the name of Govinda (another name for Lord Krishna) and carrying the sacred ‘Om’ symbol.

They’re calling on the firm to re-name and re-label its two IPAs, which have both won Great Taste awards.


“Linking Lord Krishna with an alcoholic beverage is very disrespectful”


Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, from Nevada (USA) contacted us to say that the usage of Hindu deities, concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda is considered hurtful to devotees.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that Lord Krishna was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines.

He added that linking Lord Krishna with an alcoholic beverage is very disrespectful.

In Hinduism, Om is used to introduce and conclude religious work. Usually considered a powerful mantra, Rajan Zed believes it is highly trivialising for it to be placed on a beer-bottle.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world, with over 1 billion adherents.

The objectionable beers include “Govinda Organic Plumage Archer” (ABV 6.4%) and “Govinda ‘Chevallier’ Edition” (ABV 6.8%).

The Cheshire Brewhouse website describes the beer as “brewed faithfully to a heritage Burton-Upon-Trent IPA recipe, dating from the early 1800s.”

It adds: “Govinda pays homage to the highly-hopped pale ales, shipped to India to slake the thirst of the English Raj.”


“This is the first I’ve heard about.”


Cheshire Brewhouse owner Shane Swindells told us the statement by Rajan Zed had taken him by surprise.

He said: “I’ve got a number of Hindu and Sikh clients – and they love the beer because of the name. They say they buy it because of the name!

“Before using the name, I did ask a few people as I wanted to see if it would cause offence. They told me it wouldn’t cause any bother.”

Speaking about the statement issued by Rajan Zed, Shane added: “Nobody has contacted me. This is the first I’ve heard about.”

The product has been on sale, without complaint, since 2012.

IPA (India Pale Ale) was originally made to be shipped to India. Made using more hops, and with a higher alcohol content, it was created in England and was popular among British troops stationed in India in the 19th century

Govinda is another name of Vishnu (God of a thousand names) and is also the name of a prominent Indian actor.

One of the things the deity is known for is being a protector of cows – and this led to one of the reasons for selecting the name Govinda, as Cheshire is well-known for its dairy herds.

Shane, who is himself an atheist, admitted: “It’s not possible to please all of the people all of the time.”

He said: We didn’t set out to offend anybody, I only want to make beer. If we were to rename it, what would we change the name to? What other name wouldn’t offend somebody, somewhere?

“I’m not trying to sell a name, I just sell beer. Cheshire Brewhouse is a small brewery, and I’m not making millions of pounds out of this.”

Shane estimates his beer (which does not sell in America) only ships a few thousand units per year – it is not a mass market product.

A bemused Shane concluded: “If they actually approached us, perhaps we could give them some answers and talk to them.”

 

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