Brewery pulls label showing Hindu god

Suit charges that Indica India Pale Ale offends Hindus worldwide

May 9, 2005 - A California man has sued the Lost Coast Brewery in Humboldt, claiming that a label on its Indica India Pale Ale offends him and Hindus worldwide.


The Costra Costa Times quoted Brij Dhir as saying the label on Indica India Pale Ale depicting a Hindu god holding a beer intimidates Hindus from practicing their religion. "How can you show a god in such a way?" he told the paper. The label shows elephant-headed Ganesh, god of wisdom and remover of obstacles, holding a beer in one of his four hands, and another in his trunk.

"I don't want to offend any Hindu people," said co-owner Barbara Groom, adding that her Hindu friends don't mind the label. "They think it's really cool."

The company will take the product off the shelves, the brewery's general manger stated in an April 26 e-mail to Dhir.

Dhir seeks at least $25,000 and his lawsuit mentions that $1 billion would be appropriate to compensate Hindus around the world. He alleges that the brewery has defamed Hindus and caused emotional distress. Even though Lost Coast is willing to change the label, Dhir said he wants a jury to rule that the owners should pay damages for the two years of using the image.

Also named as defendants are Safeway, which carries the product, the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the state Attorney General's Office. Dhir alleges it has failed to respond to his requests for action against the brewery.

"It's a hate crime," Dhir told the newspaper.

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