Sydney: An Australian brewery has come under severe criticism from Hindu groups for depicting religious deities on the labels of its alcoholic ginger beer bottles.
International Hindu leaders have called for an apology from Brookvale Union Brewery and immediate withdrawal of the images of Hindu deities, Ganesha and Lakshmi, from the labels of its beer bottles, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday.
Yadu Singh, president of the Indian Australian Association of New South Wales, said the labels were offensive and had "cheapened" the world`s third biggest religion.
"It is disgusting, you don`t do that," Singh said.
"In everything Hindus do, Ganesha is involved," he said.
The Brookvale Union Brewery, however, defended the labels, saying they were not intended to cause offence.
"The aim... was to create a great-tasting drink representing the flair, feel and colours from the Asian continent, the primary source of ginger," a spokesman for Brookvale Union said.
"With recent feedback brought to our attention, we will be looking at design options for our bottles," the brewery spokesman added.
Earlier, Rajan Zed, president of the US-based Universal Society of Hinduism, had demanded an apology and the immediate removal of the labels.
"Lord Ganesh and goddess Lakshmi are 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," Zed told Fairfax Media.
"It is not acceptable," he added.
Hindu symbols have been used inappropriately by commercial brands in Australia earlier too.
In 2011, the image of goddess Lakshmi was portrayed on a swimsuit at the Australian Fashion Week.
The company immediately pulled the item from production and apologised for any offence caused after Hindu groups protested it.