National Museum Axes Meat Dishes From Harappan Menu In Event On Premises

The museum cited unspecified rules and asked a private firm, which is one of the organisers of the event, not to serve non-vegetarian items.

New Delhi| The decision that was made in the last minute, the National Museum has banned non-vegetarian dishes from being served at Historical Gastronomica, a weeklong exhibition-cum-event on culinary history that offers “the Indus dining experience” through an “ethnoarchaeological kitchen of the Harappan culture” on the museum lawn from February 19 to 25.

Organised jointly by the National Museum, the Ministry of Culture and One Station Million Stories (OSMS), a private firm, the event’s menu with vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, along with an invitation for online booking, was showcased on the museum website and also on social media by the government.

Tuesday, the institution cited unspecified rules and asked the private firm to not serve meat dishes.

Unidentified officials in the Ministry of Culture said that “a couple of MPs” reacted to the menu shared by the ministry online. Additional Director General Subrata Nath confirmed that “meat dishes” have been removed from the menu, but denied any “external interference” in the matter.

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“Actually, there is no rule as such,” he told The Indian Express. “But we have to respect the museum’s tradition. So we emailed the private organisers yesterday [Tuesday].”

On other museums, such as IGNCA, NMML and crafts museum, not having any such curbs, Nath said: “I won’t comment on what others do. Ours has so many idols of gods and goddesses, and a relic of Lord Buddha. International dignitaries visit this museum. We have to consider these sensitivities here.”

On why the government cleared and advertised the non-vegetarian menu in the first place, Nath claimed that the OSMS did not discuss the issue in detail. “Their Harappan menu is very well researched but they should not have opted for the non-veg dishes. In any case, we had a discussion and were able to avoid just in time what could have become an embarrassment.”

This isn’t the first time when the 71-year-old National Museum has bumped into the non-vegetarian and alcohol question.

Back in 2002, the museum’s canteen decided to start serving meat dishes on its menu. At that time, the Hindu fundamentalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad burnt the museum director’s effigy in protest.

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