Luxury hotel chain Kempinski has offered “most sincere apologies” and “deepest regrets” and renamed its bar carrying the name of Hindu deity Hanuman in its Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok after Hindus protested calling it “highly inappropriate”.
Richard Schestak, General Manager at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, in an email today to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, wrote: “…on behalf of the Siam Kempinski Hotel and Kempinski Group, I would like to express my most sincere apologies for any offence caused… it was never our intention to cause any upset to anyone in the Hindu community… We have changed the name of the bar and removed any reference to Hanuman to avoid any confusion or potential upset…please accept our deepest regrets…”.
Its “Hanuman Bar” is now called “1897 Lounge”. A martini concoction of Hanuman Bar called “Hanumantini”, which included Vodka and which Hindus also objected; has also been renamed as “1897TINI”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Kempinski Hotels for understanding the concerns of Hindu community, which felt that such a nomenclature was insensitive.
Rajan Zed suggested that Kempinski and other hotel chains should send their senior executives for training in religious and cultural sensitivity so that they had a better understanding of the feelings of customers and communities.
Zed had said that Lord Hanuman was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not for selling liquor and beef. Inappropriate usage of sacred Hindu deities or concepts or symbols or icons for mercantile greed or other agenda was not okay, as it hurt the devotees.
Selling beef and liquor in the name of a Hindu deity was a desecration. Cow, the seat of many deities, was sacred and had long been venerated in Hinduism. Kempinski, which claimed of “people-centred principles”, should have shown some maturity when naming a bar; Rajan Zed had indicated.
Luxury hotels should not be in the business of religious appropriation, sacrilege, and ridiculing entire communities. It was deeply trivializing of the immensely venerated Lord Hanuman to be treated like this; Zed had emphasized.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled; Rajan Zed had noted.
Zed had stated that such trivialization of a greatly venerated Hindu deity was disturbing to the Hindus. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it were insensitive, Zed added.
In Hinduism, Lord Hanuman is known for incredible strength and was a perfect grammarian.
Menu of “Hanuman Bar” at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok included wagyu beef tartare, grilled beef, angus beef burger, beef ragout, beef khao pad; besides various kinds of vodka, gin, tequila, whisky, rum, liqueurs, beer, brandy, etc.
Headquartered in Geneva and Munich, Kempinski, hoteliers since 1897 with reportedly about 81 hotels around the globe, claimed to be “Europe’s oldest luxury hotel company” and also claimed that their bars “are the epitome of elegance”. Bernold Schroeder is the Chief Executive Officer. Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok described itself as “five-star luxury resort-inspired haven”.