The topic of “Kali-Ma” beer, earlier scheduled to be launched on May 15 by an American brewery but then cancelled after Hindu protest, was reportedly raised in the upper house of India’s Parliament on May 15 with demand of immediate summoning of US ambassador.
According to reports, it was stated in Rajya Sabha in India’s capital New Delhi on this issue that the religious feelings of Hindus were being hurt. Is there no manufacturing code there, it was said.
Portland (Oregon, USA) based Burnside Brewing Company, which earlier announced to release its “Kali-Ma” beer on May 15; has already apologized, postponed the release and would rename it.
In an announcement published on their Facebook page on May 11, the Company wrote: In response to pleas from the Hindu community we have decided to postpone the limited release of “Kali-ma” our imperial wheat ale flavored with Indian spices and Scotch-Bonnet peppers. It is NEVER our intention at Burnside to offend or alienate any race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. The inspiration for the beer label simply came from a favorite childhood movie in the “Indiana Jones” series and we were unaware that it could be offensive to anyone. We are currently scrambling to re-name the beer and intend to release it soon afterwards…to anyone we have offended we sincerely apologize.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, calling identifying of the beer with Goddess Kali as “inappropriate”, has thanked and commended the Company for showing responsibility, respect and maturity by taking quick action and for having an understanding for the hurt feelings of Hindu community. It was a step in the right direction, he added in a statement in Nevada (USA).
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stresses that Goddess Kali is highly revered in Hinduism and is meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda is not okay.
Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed argued.
Zed further said that such trivialization of Goddess Kali 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 hurt the devotees, Zed pointed out and added that businesses should be respectful to various faith traditions.
“Kali-Ma” the beer was earlier announced as spiced wheat ale involving cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, India dandicut peppers, etc., and showed the picture of Goddess with four arms and three severed heads. Jason McAdam is the brew-master at the Company which is also organizing Annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival on June 9-10.
Goddess Kali, who personifies Sakti or divine energy, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. She is considered the goddess of time and change. Some Bengali poets described her as supreme deity. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.