New Delhi: The beef ban that holds sway over various parts of India has reared its head abroad, with a Kerala cultural group in Germany being forced to drop beef curry from its menu for a festival organised by the Consulate General of India (CGI) last week.
In a Facebook post published late Monday, the Kerala Samajam Frankfurt — a Malayali diaspora group in Germany — claimed that the CGI in Frankfurt “kindly requested” them to revise their menu after “some people with vested interests raised objection and threatened to make ruckus during the event”.
The statement said that the original menu had been prepared “based on the common food interests of Kerala and its people”, because “all Indian organisations were explicitly asked to present the common delicacies of each state with only restriction being for alcohol”.
Dear Members, Friends and well-wishers of Kerala Samajam Frankfurt,During the recent Indien Fest organised by…
Vigilantism reaches foreign shores
The diaspora group was to serve the beef curry as part of the ‘Indien Fest’ — a festival held in Frankfurt last Saturday — which, rather ironically, was themed around the concept of ‘Unity in Diversity’. The aim was to showcase the multitude of cultures that co-exist within the country through food, performances and handicraft stalls organised by different state associations.
The Kerala Samajam Frankfurt reiterated that “we as a responsible cultural organisation – representing the peace loving “GODS OWN COUNTRY” decided to comply to maintain peace and harmony and above all, to uplift the core value of INDIA – “UNITY IN DIVERSITY.””
The statement came after the Frankfurt CGI’s request “so that the event could be held without any incidents”.
जर्मनी के फ्रैंकफर्ट शहर में चल रहे इंडियन फेस्ट में भारतीय जायके का लुत्फ.
DW हिन्दी यांनी वर पोस्ट केले शनिवार, ३१ ऑगस्ट, २०१९
The New Indian Express quoted an unidentified member of the Kerala Samajam Frankfurt as saying that the group was “vehemently put under pressure to alter our already published food menu and was asked to remove beef from this list”.
“Ultimately, we succumbed to the pressure to avoid a law and order situation in the city,” said the member.
Just days before the event, an online petition, titled ‘Save Culture of COW PROTECTION in Indian NRI Circles & Festivities’, was posted by user Sima Hindu, with the following text:
According to the report, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad — an affiliate of the ruling BJP’s parent organisation, RSS — raised the objections and was behind the petition.
Some counter-protests were also held against the removal of beef, in which people held placards — stating “Unity in diversity, we decide what we eat” — and decided to boycott the event.
However, the CGI in Frankfurt called the “cultural extravaganza” a “resounding success” that reportedly saw the participation of nearly 20,000 people.
Concluding with huge success, #IndienFest–#UnityinDiversity saw a very huge participation. CGI Frankfurt & Indian associations presented cultural extravaganza of dance, music & culinary delights at #Roßmarkt & #Rathenauplatz.@ICCR_Delhi @MinOfCultureGoI @IndianDiplomacy pic.twitter.com/RVmESUqoSt
— India in Frankfurt (@CGIFrankfurt) September 2, 2019
Kerala has long been a beef-eating state
Kerala, as is well known, has a long tradition of eating beef. So when the Narendra Modi government issued a notification in 2017 banning the sale of cows for slaughter, the Malayalis were up in arms.
The ban was eventually suspended by the Supreme Court, allowing states like Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya, among a few others, to keep the legal status of their beef industry intact.
The Modi government later dropped the restrictions on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets.