India America Today lands American beer “Kali-Ma” in hot water in Indian Parliament

Krishna Kali installed in Keoratala Burning Ghat.

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Washington DC – The issue of the planned launch of “Kali-Ma” beer, scheduled for May 15 in the US but then canceled after Hindu protests were reported by India America Today, was raised in the upper house of India’s Parliament on May 15, with a demand that the US ambassador be summoned immediately.

Commending the recently launched “India America Today” for highlighting the “Kali-Ma” beer issue, Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, hoped that the media group will continue to raise topics which are important to the Indo-American community, empowering them and giving voice to their concerns.

Earlier on Monday, Indian main opposition party Bhartiya Janata Pary (BJP) member Ravi Shankar Prasad raised the issue in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the Indian Parliament, calling the Burnside Brewing Company’s launch of a product named Kali-Ma beer a serious and sensitive issue.

“The advertisement for the beer read ‘Come worship the black one Kali as the ultimate reality or Brahman’ … with a picture of the Goddess,” said Shankar Prasad. This was not the first time religious images have been hijacked for commercial means, Prasad added, detailing earlier incidents of similar insensitivity when a picture of Goddess Laxmi was displayed in a toilet, a picture of God was put on a bra, and Lord Ganesha was displayed as a sex object on a talk show.

Demanding to know about the US advertisement code and questioning whether the beverage company would have dared to mock the God or Goddess of any other religion, the Indian lawmaker demanded, “Summon US Ambassador to India … and make him apologize for this.”

With the BJP and other members supporting the issue, Indian Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Rajeev Shukla replied, “I will convey the concerns to External Affairs Ministry.”

Portland (Oregon, US) based Burnside Brewing Company, which had announced it would release its “Kali-Ma” beer on May 15, has already apologized and postponed the release, saying it would rename the beer.

Zed, who spearheaded the protest and decried the beer with Goddess Kali as “inappropriate,” has commended the company for its responsibility in taking quick action and thanked them for showing maturity and respect for the sensitivities of the Hindu community. It was a step in the right direction, he added in a statement in Nevada.

“Kali-Ma” beer had been advertised as a spiced wheat ale containing cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, and India dandicut peppers, and showed the picture of the Goddess with four arms and three severed heads. Jason McAdam is the brew-master at the company, which is also organizing the annual Portland Fruit Beer Festival on June 9-10.

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