In an impassioned plea, members of the Indian American community have voiced their concerns to Incendiary Brewing Company, headquartered in Winston-Salem, urging the withdrawal of a beer named after the revered Hindu goddess Kali. The beer’s label, featuring a reimagined image of the deity, has sparked outrage within the community.
The controversy arises from the perceived misuse of sacred Hindu deities, symbols, and icons for commercial purposes, causing emotional distress among devotees. Rajan Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, emphasized that the highly revered goddess Kali holds a sacred place in Hinduism and is meant to be worshipped in temples and homes, not exploited for selling beer.
“Breweries should refrain from engaging in religious appropriation, sacrilege, and the ridicule of entire communities. Portraying the immensely venerated Hindu goddess Kali on a beer label is deeply trivializing and offensive,” Zed stated.
Hinduism, one of the world’s oldest and third-largest religions with approximately 1.2 billion adherents, boasts a profound philosophical heritage that should not be treated lightly. Zed underscored the significance of respecting symbols of faith, regardless of their scale, emphasizing the need for their appropriate handling.
Goddess Kali, embodying divine energy or Shakti, holds a significant place within Hinduism as the goddess of time and change. Revered by millions, Kali has been described by some Bengali poets as the supreme deity. The United States is home to around three million Hindus.
The controversial beer in question, named “Kali the Destroyer Mango Lassa IPA,” is available in both draft and cans at the Winston-Salem brewery. Described as an IPA with Vic Secret, Citra, and Sabra, infused with Mango, Vanilla, and lactose, the beer boasts an alcohol content of 7.5% ABV.
Incendiary Brewing Company, founded in 2018 by Brandon Branscome and John Bacon, operates from two locations in Winston-Salem and Lewisville. With plans for a Raleigh location in the upcoming fall, the company is known not only for its diverse beer offerings but also for hosting a range of events and shows.
The Indian American community’s plea reflects a growing awareness of cultural sensitivity and the significance of respecting religious sentiments. As discussions continue, the outcome of this situation remains uncertain, stirring broader conversations about the intersection of commerce, culture, and spirituality.