Outrage as India’s Butter Chicken Capital Delhi Closes Meat Shops for A Hindu Festival

New Delhi: Many meat shops in the Indian capital, Delhi, have been closed for two days for Navratri, Hindu festival celebrated for nine days.

The majority of Indians are meat-eaters. Research shows only 20% of Indians are really vegetarian. 

New Delhi: Many meat shops in the Indian capital, Delhi, have been closed for two days after orders from civic officials. The order asked them to remain shut for Navratri — a Hindu festival celebrated for nine days.

Mayors of the East and South districts said many people did not eat non-vegetarian food during the festival. Many complained that they did not like seeing Meat cut in the open.

The move has riled many Indians who have taken to social media to express their outrage. Many social media activists say it violates India’s pluralism.

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Navratri celebrates the victory of Hindu Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, a demon. During the nine-day festival, devout Hindus usually fast or abstain from eating meat and even avoid using garlic, onions, and certain spices in their food.

The Indian capital, governed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, has not issued any official order to close meat shops.

The mayor who has called for the shops to remain shut until 11 April belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Their move has drawn sharp criticism online, with some pointing out that someone’s choice to abstain from Meat should not infringe on another’s freedom to eat Meat or earn a livelihood.

MP and Trina Mool Congress party leader Mahua Moitra strongly reacted to the order saying, “the Constitution allows me to eat when I like.”

People have asked why the sale and purchase of garlic and onion were not banned during this period. “Why stop at just meat?”

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One Twitter user said: “Hotels will continue serving Meat. Online vendors will continue to deliver Meat. But the Hindu sentiment will be hurt by the meat shops run by poor Muslim vendors.”

In his letter of 4 April, the South Delhi Mayor, Mukesh Surayan, said devotees’ “religious beliefs and sentiments are affected when devotees come across meat shops on their way to offer prayers.”

“During Navratri, 99% of Delhi households don’t even use garlic and onions. Therefore we’ve decided that no meat shops will be open in south [municipality],” Surayan told ANI news agency. He added that there would be fines on “violators.”

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The mayor of East Delhi, Shyam Sunder Aggarwal, said that “if anyone is selling Meat in this period, it would be either stale or slaughtering done through illegal means. So, I have ordered 16 teams to keep a watchful eye on such traders and take action accordingly”.

There is confusion on the ground, as shopkeepers have not received any orders yet.

Indian Express reports shopkeepers across several south Delhi neighborhoods have kept their businesses closed out of fear. 1,500 registered meat shops fall under the south Delhi municipal corporation.

Despite the common belief that India is a largely vegetarian country, research shows that only about 20% of Indians are vegetarian.

Hindus, who make up 80% of the country’s population, are significant meat-eaters. Delhi, where only a third of residents are vegetarian, may well deserve its reputation for being India’s butter chicken capital.

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