Pandal to change menu after row over non-vegetarian food

Following a controversy over setting up of non-vegetarian food stalls at a Durga Puja Pandal in east Delhi, the organisers have decided to do away with the tradition.

Purbachal Puja Samiti of Patparganj said there will be no non-vegetarian food at their pandal and has blamed “vested interests” of a group for the whole episode. They said the decision was taken to “avoid further controversy”.

An individual had earlier put up a Facebook post saying the committee was initially denied permission by the police to organise the puja as they serve non-vegetarian food. He claimed in the post that they were granted permission after giving a written undertaking that only vegetarian food will be served.

‘No objections from cops’

B.C. Mandal, the president of the Samiti, denied that the police or any civic agency had denied permission at any stage. “The police did not raise any objections to organising the Puja. The person who put up the Facebook post is not associated with us,” said Mr. Mandal.

Mr. Mandal said that a few persons living in the vicinity of the Puja venue objected to non-vegetarian dishes. “It is very common for puja pandals to have stalls serving non-veg food because our dietary habits do not have any such restrictions during puja. But there have been some differing voices from within the community as well because some Bengalis practice abstinence like the locals here. Banning it, however, was never on the cards,” he said.

He said the procedure to secure permission for the puja from the police, DDA and other agencies started early in August. It was made clear to them that non-vegetarian dishes would be served, he added.

“When certain groups objected, the authorities assured us that things would remain the way they have been for the several years we have been organising the Puja,” said Mr. Mandal. On the motive, he said that the persons had planted some banana sapling in the area reserved for puja and hence wanted puja to stop.

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