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Hindu, Buddhist leaders complain about NY beer ‘Nirvana’

Hindu and Buddhist leaders want a New York brewery to change the name of its Nirvana IPA, complaining that the moniker is disrespectful to their beliefs.

“Upset Hindus and Buddhists are urging Cooperstown, NY based Ommegang to apologize and withdraw its ‘Nirvana’ beer,” according to a statement issued by Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism and Buddhist minister, Matthew Fisher.

Ommegang brewery in Cooperstown, NY was asked to “withdraw” its Nirvana beer.
Ommegang Brewery

The men of cloth said slapping the word ‘Nirvana’ on a beer is “deeply trivializing” of the sacred term and “equating it with alcohol was very painful to the devotees.”

Owned by Duvel Moortgat of Belgium, Ommegang said in a statement, “The name “Nirvana IPA” is intended to celebrate the atmosphere in which we hope beer lovers will enjoy the beer, which is that of tranquility when the noise and cares of the world fall away.

“Brewery Ommegang began distribution of Nirvana IPA in 2015; however, until today, we were unaware of the apparent concern with the name within the Hindu & Buddhist communities. We never intended to disrespect any community or religious beliefs by including ‘Nirvana’ in naming the IPA. We welcome the opportunity to educate ourselves and determine what potential changes we could consider for this beer.”

Fisher told The Post that he hopes “all the nail salons that use the words “Zen and Nirvana” also get the message. 

“It cheapens the word and is unkind,” he told The Post. Fisher and Zed said alcohol, which is not condoned by the religions is a “pathway to delusion and degradation.” Buddhist monks are known for their modest lifestyles, that eschew alcohol and luxuries.

It’s not the first time the pair have spoken out about businesses coopting religious symbols.

In 2020, Zed and Fisher along with other religious leaders took on Live Nation Entertainment for installing statues of Buddha, Lord Mahavira and Lord Parshvanatha in its nightclubs, including House of Blues, across the country.

At the time, the House of Blues said in a statement to the Associated Press, “We deeply apologize and immediately removed the statue Mahavira from all of our venues,” adding, “We are reassessing the presence of all deities in our venues and engaging with the coalition and other religious experts to advise on next steps, including removal, relocation or other appropriate actions.” 

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