Cambodian beer named after Hindu monkey god Hanuman riles Indians
- The Hanuman Premium Lager hit the market months ago but came to attention in India after a Twitter user drew attention to promotional materials placed outside a shop
- Some demanded the company change the name and image on the lager bottle, while others said it was much ado about nothing
While the Hanuman Premium Lager made by Hanuman Beverages hit the Southeast Asian nation’s market months ago, the furore over the pint’s name and its bottle design emblazoned with the deity’s image erupted on Monday following a tweet by a user who drew attention to promotional materials placed outside a shop.
The user, upset about the perceived religious insult, also urged the Indian embassy to reach out to the Cambodian authorities to “get the brand name and image changed”.
Some Twitter users backed the demand, questioning the firm’s decision to use the name despite Cambodians knowing who Hanuman was, and exhorting fellow Hindus to defend the religion.
But others described the incident as much ado about nothing and commended Cambodia’s religious harmony, saying even though the drink used the god’s name, the country was peaceful unlike India, which has seen a rise in communal violence in recent years.
“Hanuman is a mythological character. I don’t see anything wrong in this. There are many alcohol companies named after Greek mythological characters,” wrote one user.
Hanuman, a key character in the Indian epic Ramayana, is revered both in Cambodia and the South Asian country.
In 2015, hundreds of Cambodians gathered in Phnom Penh to receive a 10th-century Hanuman statue after it was returned by the Cleveland Museum of Art in the US that had housed the ancient sculpture since 1982. The antique was taken from the Koh Ker temple complex in Preah Vihear province decades ago.
Hanuman Beverages, which touts it product as “Cambodia’s best beer”, has not faced any domestic fury so far and enjoys the patronage of customers.
“This is just the beginning. We will have more products in the near future to meet the needs of customers who are always looking forward to new, unique and real quality products,” local media quoted CEO Chas Geschke as saying at a business gathering last year.
It’s not the first time Indian netizens have targeted foreign companies over religious beliefs.
In 2020, e-commerce giant Amazon was forced to remove doormats and other products sporting images of Hindu gods from its overseas websites following a backlash on social media.