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Subhamoy Das

'Kali-Ma' Beer to be Renamed After Hindus Protest

By May 14, 2012

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Kali-Ma BeerThe American brewery that announced it is soon going to launch a beer called 'Kali-Ma' has apologized and postponed its release and has said that it would rename their product following protests by Hindu groups.

Not long ago the Oregon based brewing company enthusiastically announced in a press release: "Burnside Brewing is excited to finally release the highly anticipated beer 'Kali-Ma' in 150 very limited 1ltr Magnum sized swing top bottles and on draft on Tuesday May 15th at their pub.

Kali-Ma, is inspired by the Hindu goddess and her tribute in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The name Kali comes from kala, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali-Ma the beer is an Imperial wheat ale or wheat wine made with toasted cardamom, fenugreek, and cumin spices added in addition to almost 400 pounds of apricot. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast harvested from Upright Brewing. We then dry hop it with 8 pounds of scotch bonnet and native India dandicut peppers... Come worship "the black one" Kali as the ultimate reality or Brahman this Tuesday!"

Hindus were naturally upset to have one of their favourite Goddesses as a beer label. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said that inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that Goddess Kali was highly revered in Hinduism and she was meant to be worshiped in temples and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed. Goddess Kali, who personifies Shakti or divine energy, is widely worshipped in Hinduism. She is considered the goddess of time and change, and Bengali poets described her as the Supreme Deity.

After Hindus protested, Burnside was quick to retract. In an announcement published on their Facebook page, the company said:

"...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... Sincerely, the crew and ownership of Burnside Brewing."

It also tweeted an apologia cancelling the launch (see screenshot)

In 2010, in a similar move, another US company Archie McPhee launched mints branded as Curry Flavored Kali Mints that feature Goddess Kali on top of its round tin lid with a mint pellet on her tongue. Hindus protested but the company was adamant.

Are you offended to see Goddess Kali on beer bottles? Is it a condonable or a culpable act? Please post a comment and have your say!

May 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm
(1) Sikandar kumar says:

Oh! It is totally disgusting and shame full. How could they do like this?
They now also very well kali maa is d name of hindu goddess.
They must have to think before speak.
who want to use dis holy name on beer he will be totally nasty devil.
Our indian government is also looks like lazy dat’s why he didn’t any strong reply till now.
Pls stop it. Don’t do like dis. Give respect all gods, any religions.

May 15, 2012 at 3:24 am
(2) Shakti Selassie says:

I am HORRIFIED @ the idea of The Goddess Maha Kali Ma’s sacred image being exploited and desecrated in order for the United States and their corporate whoremongers to profit from making beer to then turn around and charge U.S. citizens with crimes related to drunken disorderliness. Give me a BREAK! Absolutely NOTHING is sacred to them and I would be just as disappointed by any Indian or Hindu government officials and/or business tycoons that would encourage this madness for profit. The very thought of it all DISGUSTS me. KALI IS WATCHING…

May 15, 2012 at 5:03 am
(3) Nandini says:

You’re horrified! In India itself ,many movies depict Ma Kali as the goddess of all the bad characters., villains who plot against the good people. Why to blame the westerners, who dont know much about the Hindu religion, gods & Goddessess. But anyhow its good atleast now they realized their error & took corrective measure. I hope in India also we have to get rid of depicting Ma Kali as a villanous goddess, especially in south indian Movies..

May 15, 2012 at 5:48 am
(4) Alkesh Patel says:

To Nandini, it is very painful when you say that westerners do not know about Hindu religion. Let me ask you, if they do not know then how can they depict our Gods and Goddesses on such products? The fact is unlike Muslims Hindus do not take guns or bombed the people who insult our religion and that is the reason they intentionally do this so that controversy erupts and that way they can earn their dollar. Further you talk about film depiction of Ma Kali, but you unfortunately you forget that they do not degrade Ma or for that matter any God or Goddesses.
I would like to suggest that Hindu organizations world over should chart out awareness programme in the educational institutes, industries and such entities so that in the long run such mischief may be avoided.

May 15, 2012 at 6:21 am
(5) CM Kopalan says:

It is sad to say the very own Hindu groups do not come out to advise and
teach people the importance of Our gods.I agree with Alkesh.We in Malaysia to which i belong to the biggest Hindu NGO will always and also
take immediate action on any one who disregard or humilate our religion
or gods.Other than India the westerners have move information on our
gods and understanding.We have also a Board of Religious advisers to
answer and question any one who disrespect like the case of the Beer bottle.

May 15, 2012 at 6:34 am

Dear All, Namaste!
Although I am a westerner, a Brazilian buddhist monk, I sometimes feel very sorry for western culture! Many westerners seem to act like silly children that, after making mistakes, come to apologise!
“Buddha Bar”, bikinis with Goddess Laxmi and now “Kali Beer”… What is that???
Lord Buddha said: “Keep yourself far from fool people and worship what is worthy to be worshiped – these is the highest blessing” (Mangala Sutra) – is it so hard to be practiced? I don´t think so!
May all of you be well and protected!

May 15, 2012 at 6:40 am
(7) amrish kumar trivedi says:

it is not the first time such things happen but we unable to sue them.

May 15, 2012 at 6:41 am
(8) Krishnan says:

Now a days it is fashionable to give derogatory comments against Hinduism…Nandini…you should be ashamed of yourself to denounce the religion…you don’t have any right to hurt sentiments of other people by saying Bollywood movies depict them wrongly. If it that you should have raised the voice against that rather than showing your “chalta hai ” attitude….

May 15, 2012 at 7:47 am
(9) Carol DeVeau says:

I am an American Hindu of european descent introduced to Hindu beliefs back in 1977. I think that if someone made a beer called “Jesus” there would be MUCH protest. I don’t appreciate it when gods or goddesses are portrayed by people that have no interest in them except for profit. (Whether the people doing it are of that particular religion or not.) And you are right, Shakti, many americans don’t consider anything sacred. It grieves me when I think about that.

May 15, 2012 at 8:20 am
(10) tirath ram says:

there is a beer called BRAMHA i wish they would change the name its not right that they use god s name like this.

May 15, 2012 at 8:31 am
(11) archana says:

jai maha kali matarani

hindu religion is purity and humility

we really need to protect our dharma, Mataraniji ki shakti aparam paar.

we need to be very cautious, to all those who beleive in Maa, please we have to….

…we need to help protect our sanskaar, pooja,archana, vidhi in our such amazing beauty of our religion.

jaaag hindu jaag, shastra aur ganga ki pavitrata ko apner aap mei outaro.

our Matarani is our pride, our religion is a way of living. we need to put hands together to protect our blessed vedic dharmic vichaar,in peace and harmony. jaiho

May 15, 2012 at 8:38 am
(12) irai says:

I feel it is very low, disrespectful and insultive to even think of doing such a thing. No matter what religion you are, we should respect one another religion. If you don’t then this is what happens.

May 15, 2012 at 9:22 am
(13) Dhani says:

Just putting the goddess name on alcohol will be unsuccessful.

May 15, 2012 at 10:05 am
(14) Shakti Selassie says:

@ Nandini ~ If you read my comment carefully you would have noticed that I also held accountable unscrupulous Indian/Hindu government officials as well as business men looking to gain from any profit to be made from this possible scandalous venture.

I was born and raised in the West so, I feel 100% completely justified when it comes to expressing MY views about the greed and corruption that I have witnessed and experienced PERSONALLY in N. America.

My family is not from this country either.

I have a STRONG Spiritual affinitity and reverence for Maha Kali Ma and her Lord Shiva. I don’t have to be Indian to respect and honor a particular God or Goddess. In the end, they are are SPIRIT and so are we.

May 15, 2012 at 10:07 am
(15) deebrittan says:

I believe that it is very inappropriate to labeled or tagged anyone’s religious
belief for the promotion for profits.

May 15, 2012 at 10:13 am
(16) Mayank Mishra says:

Naming a beer after ma Kali’s name depicts the heights of ignorance.Those who understand Kali know that the symbolism depicts energy and awareness.This proves how stupid this act was in addition to being outrageous.One (kali)signifies awareness and energy while the other is means to lose even the physical awareness and energy!! This happens only in cultures(or lack of) where people never had access to higher dimensions of life and are too lost in gross physicality.When the source of knowledge about Hinduism is derived from “Indiana Jones”,such accidents(if it was) are bound to happen.I pity such guys.

May 15, 2012 at 10:36 am
(17) krishna says:

How would the same people react who feign ignorance about Hindu deities, if someone came up with “virgin Mary condome” as the brand name? yes we are offended and yes they are despicable who take Hindu Gods and Goddesses as their brand name for beer or bikinis!

May 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm
(18) ravi says:

It’s disrespectful a liquor company would even dare to use something sacred to promote their product. But for I would like to ask Hindus why we don’t say anything about people in India using sacred Gods to promote their products? Bollywood movie companies that promote movies about wealthy people wasting money on parties and expensive cars (while ignoring 300 million starving people) and women wearing little or no clothing – these companies use Lakshmi and Durga’s image in their opening credits. Then think of the slavery, war and rape tied with the diamond and gold industries (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/02/congo-women-face-slavery-mines) – yet jewelers use the image of Lakshmi to promote useless jewelry (how does owning a diamond ring help promote spirituality or get us closer to God???)

May 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm
(19) Tushar Singh says:

Dear fellow Santana dharma adherents,
It is laudable that the company heeded the sentiments of the community and will rename the beer. Kudos to all the people who raised their voice against it. What is commendable is that this was achieved through peaceful means. Let us all be very careful in our approach towards protesting against such incidences. We should always protest peacefully and logically. That way the end result becomes even more rewarding. On the other hand if our efforts fall on deaf years, then I don’t think our gods and goddesses can be demeaned by such ridiculous activities so we should ignore them instead of getting enraged. Always remember God is Love and Love overcomes all obstacles and hardships. Om

May 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm
(20) anna says:

It’s an unpardonnable act; never thought people would go so low; did they not find another name for their beer?

May 15, 2012 at 7:30 pm
(21) K.Sarma says:

We Hindus are a soft touch! The beer manufacturers would NEVER even contemplate putting a muslim name on their product, imagine
“Mecca’s Special Malt Beer ” or “Mohammed’s Favorite Lager”!!!
There would be an international uprising or violence and murder as seen in the Danish cartoons episode.
Whilst we Hindus have much more restraint than other so called religions, we need to assert ourselves more positively on the international front by educating others about our religion and our religious sensitivities.

May 15, 2012 at 10:53 pm
(22) R Venugopal says:

better to name Jesus/

May 16, 2012 at 2:22 am
(23) Vivek Tandon says:

When will Americans stop insulting our Hindu deities. they are not at all ignorant about Hinduism and our deities. it is a 100% deliberate action / attempt. We all should condemn it. What will happen if we react vice versa which although is never going to happen as we have been taught to restrain from such activities.

May 16, 2012 at 3:38 am
(24) shashikant says:

We, that is to say Hindu’s accept anything and everything being said about our religion. Making mockery of our scared deities is a normal practice. But why blame others in our own Hindi movies, we all the time see actors and actresses blaming our God for the calamities they are under going in the movies be it Amitab Bachaan or anybody else. These are common scenes. We do not fine deities of other religions being shouted upon.
where do we and how do we stop it. First of all our own house must be cleaned.

May 16, 2012 at 9:49 am
(25) Oscar A says:

As long as there are thousands of deities among the thousands of human societies, maybe any name used as a trade mark will be criticised. I hope religion some day will disappear.

Remember “Sarva dharman parityajya..:”

May 16, 2012 at 3:40 pm
(26) hindu veer says:

oscar u are talking nonsense. do u know what is religion?
hindus belong to sathya sanatan vedic dharma.

May 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm
(27) Lawrence Curry says:

I am not completly a Hindu but technically a Christian. I do not like seeing Kali depicted in a disrespectfull way-it is in very bad useage and taste and it offends many including myself. I think Kali is a figure of rebirth or a new start, as incomplete as my understanding is. What I would like to see happen is for Hanuman to get some proper recognition outside India as he and Kali most obviously deserve. If more people outside Hindi relegion gained an understanding of these Gods and the ideas surrounding them then we would all be much happier. Thank you for your website and the subscription to it.

May 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm
(28) Raja Yoga says:

The top comment made by Shakti Selassie sums up what I was going to say SO WELL that I am just going to copy and paste it:

“I am HORRIFIED @ the idea of The Goddess Maha Kali Ma’s sacred image being exploited and desecrated in order for the United States and their corporate whoremongers to profit from making beer to then turn around and charge U.S. citizens with crimes related to drunken disorderliness. Give me a BREAK! Absolutely NOTHING is sacred to them and I would be just as disappointed by any Indian or Hindu government officials and/or business tycoons that would encourage this madness for profit. The very thought of it all DISGUSTS me. KALI IS WATCHING…”

May 17, 2012 at 5:42 am
(29) rajasekharamurthy says:

hindu gods r mostly using as very agly way by other people.our govt very silence about it,we must print our leader photos on condoms,and other things

May 18, 2012 at 4:48 am
(30) Kashyap Ray says:

Oh divine MOTHER KALI. Please forgive these people who do nt know the crime they have committed….

Kashyap Ray

May 18, 2012 at 8:10 pm
(31) JAI KALI MA says:

Iit is wrong to name the beer Kali Ma just as it is wrong to sing hanuman chalisa in rap. the movie directors should be blamed for what happens in the western world

May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm
(32) Patricia Sookhoo says:

How could any one even think of putting Kali Ma on a beer bottle!!!!!

May 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm
(33) Rahul says:

When quoting someone, it is more honest to use quotations marks.

“Hindu statesman Rajan Zed ” is a self description, not a law of nature. You should properly include such a statement in quotes.

And “Hindus” don’t protest, one specific person known for making noise in public is protesting. It is extremely disingenuous to suggest so.

Last I heard, no one appointed him as the guardian of Hindu outrage.

February 15, 2013 at 1:53 am
(34) dev says:

Very disgusting

April 12, 2013 at 4:03 am
(35) jason says:

The west , in general , has no idea of the devotional , Bhakti aspect of India, which is it’s Supreme Greatness.. Without Bhakti , India would just be another country.
The Law of Karma sorts everything out, in fact the compassion should be for those so ignorant. They have to suffer for this.
Kali-Maa just looks on at it all….. totally unaffected, obviously.

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