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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Kali-Ma beer back in the can

Robin Bansal, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 13, 2012
First Published: 16:37 IST(13/5/2012) | Last Updated: 00:18 IST(14/5/2012)

The announcement of a beer brand in the US, named after Hindu Goddess Kali, has not gone down well with Indians across the world. Upset Hindus have urged the Portland-based Burnside Brewing Company to not release the product titled Kali-Ma beer, calling it “inappropriate.”

The advertisement for the beer read: “Come worship ‘the black one’ Kali as the ultimate reality or Brahman this Tuesday!” with a picture of the Goddess with four arms and three severed heads.

The label of the Kali-Ma beer bottle showing Goddess Kali with four arms and three severed heads.
Shikha Sehgal, a New York-based Indian, went berserk on online forums soon after the news was out. “My Indian friends here and I are never going to sip a single drop of that beer even if it’s available for free. How could they take our religion for granted?” she posted on her Facebook page.

The company has now apologised and postponed the release of their product from May 15 until they rename it. “In response to pleas from the Hindu community, we have decided to postpone the limited release of Kali-Ma... it is never our intention... to offend or alienate any race, creed, religion or sexual orientation. We are currently scrambling to rename the beer… (sic),” the company posted on their Facebook page.

The protest was spearheaded by Nevada-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism. “Such trivialisation of Goddess Kali is disturbing to Hindus world over. Goddess Kali is highly revered in Hinduism and is not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed,” says Zed.

Astrologer Vikram Mehta echoes the same. “The West goes too far in portraying our gods and goddesses.”

However, back home in Delhi, a local beer called Kalyani — one of the many names of Goddess Durga —has been available for years.

Not the first time
In January 2011, Hindus demanded an apology from actor Jim Carrey for demonstrating a sexual technique by mocking Lord Ganesh and his trunk in a TV show.

In November 2008, the Universal Society of Hinduism asked supermodel Heidi Klum to apologise for posing as Goddess Kali, using her as a prop in a nightclub.

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