Why would someone serve beef and alcohol at a program aimed at spreading Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy?

“I do not regard flesh food as necessary for us. I hold flesh food to be unsuited to our species,” were the words of Mahatma Gandhi about consumption of non-vegetarian food. One may agree, others may disagree with what Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as The Mahatma, preached. But everyone has to accept that he always stood by his own beliefs. This rigid nature has been one of the most criticised aspects of his character, but that’s how the man was.

Gandhi strongly believed in his ideal of Ahimsa (non-violence), which according to him was not only a way to protest against the brutal British atrocities but was a complete way of life. Gandhi’s Ahimsa encompasses every aspect of a human life Including food habits. Barrister Gandhi was a strong advocate for Sattvika (vegetarian and simple) food and strongly opposed consumption of non-veg and alcohol.

Recently an event titled, ‘Mahatma Gandhi : An Immigrant’ was held at the immigration museum of Melbourne, Australia. Dr Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, had been invited to speak on her Grandfather’s legacy and learnings to society today. The website is seen quoting, “This digital interactive exhibition honours the period of Gandhi’s stay in South Africa and his subsequent personal transformation from this experience”.

However had Mahatma attended the event, he would have absconded from that place, after seeing the menu. Unfortunately, the management of the Immigration Museum did not apparently feel so.

The food chart at an event, which highlights the life of a strict vegetarian like Mahatma Gandhi, was full of non-vegetarian dishes and alcoholic beverages. Apart from various non vegetarian dishes, the menu also included lamb and beef (Angus). What would be a bigger irony than this, that beef was served at an event based on a person who always stood for protection of cows and cattle.

“My ambition is no less than to see the principle of cow protection established throughout the world. But that requires that I should set my own house thoroughly in order first,” Gandhi had said.

Gandhi’s views about alcohol were also very strong. According to him, a person by consuming alcohol kills his/her soul momentarily. But the varieties of alcoholic beverages at the event about Mahatma Gandhi was such that might even put some of the bars in India to shame.

Various people have raised objections to the fact, that statues of Hindus gods such as Ganesha were placed at the event and beef along with other meats were served in the event. Several Australian journalists and politicians have criticised this insensitive move as well. Concerns have been raised that such type of events, may tarnish relations between Indian and Australian communities.

Question arises that what was the need of doing an event on Mahatma Gandhi, if his ideas and beliefs can’t even be honoured, even for a day. Before conducting programs on Mahatma Gandhi, the management at Immigration Museum should have had the sensitivity to approach these issues with care.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi