Offensive: Hindu deities on the alcoholic ginger beer label.
A small northern beaches brewery has found itself at the centre of a religious row after depicting Hindu deities on the labels of its alcoholic ginger beer.
International Hindu leaders have called for the Brookvale Union Brewery to apologise and immediately withdraw the labels, which portray the combined head and body of two prominent deities of the Hindu religion, Ganesh and Lakshmi.
The beverage was meant to have "flair, feel and colours of the Asian continent", according to the brewery, which says the images were not intended to cause offence.
The company website also has a flying Ganesh with its head wreathed in flames, which transforms into the head of Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Rajan Zed, a Hindu statesman and president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, demanded an apology and the immediate removal of the labels.
"Lord Ganesh and Goddess Lakshmi are highly revered in Hinduism and they were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed," Mr Zed said told Fairfax Media. "It is not acceptable."
The controversy has now reached the Indian media and numerous Indian websites.
"Many people in India are upset too," he said.
Mr Zed said he appreciated the mistake was probably unintentional, but said action should be taken urgently. "Usually, it is ignorance," he said.
The president of the Indian Australian Association of NSW, Yadu Singh, agreed the labels were offensive and had "cheapened" the Hindu religion, which is followed by more than 1 billion people worldwide.
"It is disgusting, you don't do that," Dr Singh said.
"This is the third biggest religion in the world," Dr Singh said. "In everything Hindus do, Ganesh is involved."
But the Brookvale Union Brewery, which is affiliated with the Four Pines Brewery in Manly, defended the labels, saying they were not intended to cause offence.
"The aim ... was to create a great-tasting drink representing the flair, feel and colours from the Asian continent, the primary source of ginger," a spokesman for Brookvale Union said.
"With recent feedback brought to our attention, we will be looking at design options for our bottles."
This is not the first time Hindu symbols have been used inappropriately by commercial brands in Australia.
In 2011, Hindus were outraged when the image of the goddess Lakshmi was portrayed on a swimsuit at Australian Fashion Week.
The company immediately pulled the item from production and apologised for any offence caused.