The festival of Navratri has grabbed headlines across the country, especially in Delhi and Ghaziabad, after officials demanded for a ban on sale of raw meat during the nine-day festival.
In Delhi, the mayors of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) have both made the demand, saying that “closing of meat shops will make us happy during this festival”.
The SDMC mayor has also written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, urging him to issue orders to shut liquor shops during the festival of Navratri.
We take a look at what this festival is all about and why has it spurred demands to close meat shops.
Chaitra Navratri explained
Known as Chaitra Navratri, this nine-day Hindu festival is the time that people remember Goddess Durga and all of her forms. They call on the goddess for protection and happiness.
In India, Navratri is celebrated twice a year — the Chaitra Navratri, which began on 2 April and will go on till 11 April, and the Sharad Navrati, which will be marked in the autumn season.
During Chaitra Navratri it is believed that Goddess Durga arrives from heaven to stay with her devotees during the time, and so it is considered to be an auspicious time.
This time is about praying, meditating, fasting and enjoying for the nine days of festivities.
Devotees avoid consuming non-vegetarian food, alcohol and tobacco. Instead, they fast and consume light food cooked without onion and garlic.
According to traditions, people usually eat food like kuttu ki puri, singhare ke pakode, sabudana khichdi and sabudana vada among others.
Another unique feature during the festival is that devotees season their food with sendha namak instead of the regular white salt.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also celebrates this festival. The prime minister had also written in a blog in 2012 that he has been fasting during Navratri for more than 40 years. During the nine-day fast, the prime minister eats only one selected fruit in the evening along with lime juice.
Call for ban on meat shops
As per an ANI news report, on 2 April, Ghaziabad mayor Asha Sharma directed owners to shut meat shops during the Navratri festival.
“Raw meat cannot be sold in the vicinity of the temple,” Sharma was quoted as saying.
The order was issued in the district’s five zones, The Indian Express reported. “It has been directed that cleanliness be maintained in respective zones, in temples and to ensure meat shops remain closed,” the order said.
However, the order has been questioned by meat shop owners, saying that they will incur losses worth thousands of rupees.
The mayors of East Delhi and South Delhi also echoed the same sentiments of shutting down meat shops during the nine-day festival.
South Delhi Mayor Mukesh Suryan said the steps were being taken keeping in view the sentiments and feelings of the public.
“Keeping in view the sentiments and feelings of the general public, necessary directions may be issued to the officers concerned to take necessary action for the closure of meat shops during the nine-day period of the Navaratri festival extending from April 2, 2022, to April 11, 2022,” the letter said.
Keeping in view the sentiments of the public, necessary directions may be issued to officers concerned to take action for the closure of meat shops during the 9-day period of Navratri festival from 2nd April to 11th April:Mukkesh Suryaan, Mayor, South Delhi Municipal Corporation pic.twitter.com/VbeMQCie5q
— ANI (@ANI) April 4, 2022
The civic body chief wrote that during the nine-day festival, devotees shun even the use of onion and garlic in their diet and “the sight of meat being sold in open or near temples makes them uncomfortable”.
“Their religious belief and sentiments are also affected when they come across meat shops or when they have to bear with the foul smell of the meat on their way to offer their daily prayers to the Goddess. Moreover, some meat shops dump waste in gutters or beside the road, which the stray dogs feed on," the letter further read.
In line with the order of the South Delhi Mayor, East Delhi civic body Mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal issued a similar diktat, asking meat shop owners to close their shops during the festival.
With inputs from agencies