Hindus to approach Australia Advertising Standards Bureau on Ganesh-Lakshmi beer labels

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

Upset Hindus are thinking of approaching Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB), “foremost authority in Australia for adjudication of complaints about advertising and marketing communications”, on Ganesh-Lakshmi beer labels.

Despite apologizing and promising to re-design their bottles and packaging and removing the objectionable images from the website in 2013, Brookvale (New South Wales, Australia) based “Brookvale Union” brewery’s ginger beer is still carrying juxtaposed images of Hindu deities Ganesh and Lakshmi; upsetting Hindus worldwide again.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest in 2013, calling juxtaposed images of Ganesh and Lakshmi on a beer bottle “highly inappropriate”, and then thanked the brewery for apologizing and focusing on redesigning the beer; has now asked it to show some responsibility, respect and maturity and understand the hurt feelings of Hindu community.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA), indicated that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi were highly revered in Hinduism and they were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed.

Rajan Zed urged Brookvale Union to remove the Ganesh-Lakshmi images from the beer label, packaging and website; recall all the beer with Ganesh-Lakshmi images from the market; and re-apologize.

Zed further said that such trivialization of Hindu deities was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more, but faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it tormented the devotees, Zed pointed out and added that businesses should be respectful to various faith traditions.

In a statement released on November 14, 2013, and published in “Beer & Brewer” magazine from New South Wales, the brewery said: “We have subsequently apologised for any distress caused and begun the process of removing the images from the website. We’re lovers, not fighters, we want to make it right… We are now focused on redesigning the Ginger Beer which hopefully all can be happy with!” It asked “graphic designers, artists, and even doodlers” to come up with a better design by November 24 and reportedly urged them not to use imagery that may be deemed offensive.

“It seems we have unintentionally offended our Hindu friends with the imagery on our Ginger Beer packaging…Brookvale Union is about great tasting, fun beverages and not about disrespecting anyone or their beliefs”, statement added.

In an email to Rajan Zed on November 12, 2013, Brookvale Union wrote: “…it was not intended to cause any offence. With the recent feedback brought to our attention, we will be re-designing our bottles and packaging.”

Label at this ginger beer bottle juxtaposed image of Lord Ganesh’s face and Goddess Lakshmi’s body, besides displaying various other Hindu religious symbols.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed noted.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune and beauty and is also known as ‘world-mother’. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.

Brookvale Union, reportedly first founded in 1950 and whose tagline is “Quality Nonsense”, defines itself as “Complex yet simple, safe but dangerous, smooth yet sharp, tight but loose.” Its Ginger Beer (4.0% ABV) comes in 500 mL bottles in a box (also carrying same Ganesh-Lakshmi juxtaposed image) of  12 and is described  as “Spicy yet mild, dry but wet, smooth yet sharp, tight but loose”.

Brookvale, a suburb of northern Sydney in Warringah Council, is part of Northern Beaches region.

ASB, based in leafy suburb Turner of Canberra, “administers a national system of advertising self-regulation”. Its “purpose” includes “general standards of advertising are in line with community values”. Ian Alwill is Chairman of its Board of Directors, while Fiona Jolly is Chief Executive Officer. 

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