RELIGIOUS leaders have demanded a Borders brewer withdraws one of its craft beers and issues an immediate apology.

Tweedbank's Tempest Brewery has come under fire from an international Hindu organisation for its use of the Lord Ganesha image.

As part of its limited edition beers the firm has used a colourful depiction of the religious deity on its India Pils beer.

But a group representing many of the world's one billion Hindus believes the labelling is in bad taste.

Lord Ganesha, known as the remover of obstacles, is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu religion.

The Universal Society of Hinduism, which is co-based in India and the USA, believes linking an alcoholic drink with a deity is disrespectful.

Rajan Zed, president of the Society, told us: "We are urging Tempest Brewing Company to apologize and withdraw its Lord Ganesha image - it is highly inappropriate.

"Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling beer for mercantile greed.

"Moreover, linking Lord Ganesha with an alcoholic beverage was very disrespectful.

"Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world and it should not be taken frivolously.

"Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled."

Tempest Brewery was founded by Gavin and Annika Meiklejohn in 2010.

And has gone on to win many business and brewing awards since relocating to Tweedbank from Kelso.

Mr Meiklejohn was quick to apologise for any upset caused by his company.

He said: "Tempest Brewing Company as a company embraces equality and diversity therefore we are saddened to hear that our India Pils has caused upset within the Hindu Community and we would like to offer our apologies not only to Raja Zed but the wider community as well.

"We would like to assure those who are offended and upset that our artwork was not intended to cause offence and was chosen for its stand out colours.

"We are not the first company to have been drawn towards Ganesha, as Mercedes, Reliance Mutual, Renault, IDFC bank have also utilised Ganesha for advertising and marketing which is why, at the time, we did not think that there would be an issue, and as we were not coming at this from the direction of a religious concept, we genuinely didn’t feel that we were straying into muddy waters and took this route in all innocence.

"Our artwork has always been bold and bright, and our inspiration has always been driven from many different avenues.

"Our passion is to create a product that people will enjoy together, not to cause upset along the way."

The India Pils was already programmed to be part of the Tempest brewing schedule for next year - but a rethink will take place over the labelling.

Mr Meiklejohn added: "We are happy to immediately remove all written references to Ganesha from our marketing of this beer and will alter the artwork before its next release.

"We would be eager to enter in to a dialogue with him, to get to know and understand their side of the story."