AB InBev is urged by an interfaith coalition to change the name of its popular Brahma beer brand which allegedly denigrates Lord Brahma, the god of creation in Hinduism. “It is the right time to fix an old wrong, the trivializing of the faith of our Hindu brothers and sisters for about 132 years," coalition spokesperson Rajan Zed told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The sacredness attached to Lord Brahma did not go well with raunchy commercials and ads of Brahma beer, Rajan Zed said. Hollywood celebrities Megan Fox and Jennifer Lopez have reportedly acted in Brahma beer commercials.
Zed, who is based in Nevada and is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that in Hinduism; Lord Brahma, along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva; formed the great triad of Hindu deities. Linking Lord Brahma with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful. AB InBev should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees, Rajan Zed indicated.
Brahma is a beer brand which was first produced in1888 by Companhia Cervejaria Brahma, a brewery in Brazil which is today part of AB InBev. The beer was named in tribute to Joseph Bramah - an Englishman who invented the draft pump valve - and not for the Hindu deity, according to Lucas Rossi, head of communications for Cervejaria Ambev, AB InBev’s subsidiary in Brazil. Ambev offers Brahma beer in eight different varieties; Chopp, Double Malt, Weiss, Red Lager, Lager, Chopp Claro, Chopp Black, Malzbier.
Rossi said that “we deeply respect religions for sure,” but the Brahma brand is “very important to the culture of the country.” Other people commented that Brahma is a very old and established brand and is by consumers in no way associated with Hinduism. Therefore the brand and its marketing cannot taint Hinduism and its deity.
Rajan Zed is a Hindu cleric and a noted leader in Interfaith Relations which includes representatives of the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions. He has in the past often campaigned against what he considers the misuse of Eastern religious imagery for commercial purposes.
Recently he urged Schweppes International Limited (SIL) to remove the Ganesha Cocktail promoted on its website, calling it highly inappropriate. In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. (Update 20.07.2020: Schweppes today removed the cocktail from its website).
Zed was also successful to remove statues of various Hindu and Jain deities from a night club within Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas. On June 25, the nightclub, said it is removing the statues and to “deeply apologize to those who are offended by recent images and we will work diligently to ensure such insensitive depictions don't happen again."
In other campaigns Zed criticizes names which remind of the historical maltreatment of Native Americans. For example he fights to rename the “Squaw Valley Ski Resort” or to drop the ‘Redskins’ name from the Washington DC NFL franchise.