On Tuesday, Hindu activist Rajan Zed issued a release calling the beer's name and imagery "highly inappropriate" and calling for its removal. Today, he issued a follow-up quoting other Nevada and California-based religious leaders also calling for the removal of the beer.
Rangel apologized for any offense caused, but called the incident "a tempest in a teapot," noting that the name was chosen in 1998 as a homage to the strength and power represented by Shiva. The beer is the company's top seller and has been featured in national media; Rangel says they will not stop its production or rename it.
"The last thing we want to do is appear like we're taking advantage of a religion or anything like that," Rangel says. "In the last two days we've also been contacted by locals who are Hindu. They are very supportive and feel like it's much ado about nothing."
He added that last year, representatives of the brewery met with leaders from the Hindu temple in Canton and the Hindu Society of North Carolina to talk about the use of Shiva's image on the beer.
"They had a concern about it, not really a complaint, they wanted to talk," Rangel tells Xpress. "We explained why we had chosen that name. They understood, and they understood why, after 16 years, we couldn't change it. They asked that we refrain from t-shirts with Shiva with girls in a hot tub or riding a Harley. So we've used the exact same logo. They were ok with us using that...it was a really, really good meeting."
This isn't the first time Zed's gone after a beer for using Hindu symbolism. This year he also he condemned an Australian company in very similar terms for using Hindu deities on its labels. The brewery apologized and said it would look at redesigning the labels.
Rangel says Zed has made no attempt to discuss his concerns with Asheville Brewing and "if he had contacted us first, we could have explained."