Restaurants In UK Named After Mahatma Gandhi Serving Alcohol And Non-Vegetarian Food!

by Aruna on Oct 27 2009 10:39 AM

Even as it's been almost six decades when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, the western world is making the most of his name.

Gandhi's name is being used to promote all kinds of branded items from Mont Blanc pens to restaurants.

However, believe it or not, joining this list is a chain of restaurants named after Mahatma Gandhi, which has come up in the United Kingdom and could startle almost Mahatma Gandhi lovers. The Gandhi restaurants located in different parts of London are serving non-vegetarian food and alcohol, the two entities that Gandhi detested in life.

Immigrants from Bangladesh manage almost all these 'Gandhi' restaurants. Zalal Uddin can be termed as the pioneer of these 'Gandhi' restaurants in the United Kingdom. He tells that he opened his restaurant 'Gandhi's' on the Kennington Road in London 27 years ago when Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi' film was released. That restaurant was a major hit as Gandhi was a well-known Indian all around and it was easy to relate the restaurant with Indian curries.

On serving alcoholic beverages and non-vegetarian food under the tag of "Gandhi", Zalal Uddin said that his restaurant caters to the European customers, thus alcohol has to be served.

"He wasn't a drinker and wasn't a non-vegetarian eater. We respect his wishes. We opened business in European country, we cater for the Europeans and that's what they expect you to serve here. Otherwise, we will not be doing any business. And the customers used to come and tell me that how wise of me of calling this restaurant 'Gandhi's Restaurant' and naming my restaurant after the great man. Everybody knows who was Gandhiji and they really appreciated it and it was an instant hit. Believe me, everybody used to know my restaurant as a name of Gandhi's," said Zalal Uddin, owner of Gandhi's Restaurant, Kennington Road, London.

The gourmets among who's of who in British politics, be they the Tories or the Liberals, are regulars at Zalal Uddin's Gandhi's Restaurant.

Recently when the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was having hectic parleys with his treasury bench on the credit crunch issue, a lot of Indian curries like Balti to Chicken Jalfrezi were ordered from the Gandhi restaurants.

Antony and Tim, two professionals, are regulars at the Gandhi's Restaurant and enjoy their vegetarian Thali (set plate meals) as well as Chicken Biryani, relished with beer.

"I knew he (Gandhi) was a vegetarian. I suppose, ...he was Indian, also I guess, he didn't drink alcohol. Probably not for me... I am more likely to be engaged in passive resistance than I'm to become a vegetarian or stop drinking alcohol," said Tim, a connoisseur of Indian food.

In London, there are three Gandhi restaurants and a few more in Cambridge and Kent.

Azad Miyan, also from Bangladesh and the manager of Gandhi's Restaurant on the Grays Inn Road in London said that it was the popularity of Gandhi, which prompted the naming of the restaurant after India's most respected freedom fighter.

"Gandhi was always a popular man since obviously long time ago. Even a lot of people came before in England. So Gandhi was popular before everyone came. When you call the name of Gandhi, They used to say from India. This is like Indian curry. That's what it is. They think putting the name of Gandhi is popular of the curry," added Azad Miyan, Manager, Gandhi's Restaurant.

However, admirers of Gandhi and followers of his philosophy don't approve of naming restaurants that sell non-vegetarian food and alcohol after Mahatma Gandhi.

According to John Rowley, one of the Trustees and Coordinator of Special Events and Projects of the Gandhi Foundation in London observed if Mahatma Gandhi were alive, he would have found it highly immoral.

Sir Richard Attenborough is the President of the Gandhi Foundation.

"Advance capitalism is extremely skilled in linking names with products which actually have no rational or appropriate link. I think people are simply intent on making a profit by associating as a word of goodness of Gandhi's name with the goodness of the product, said John Rowley, Trustee and Coordinator of Special Events and Projects, Gandhi Foundation, London.

The name 'Gandhi' which has long been associated with 'non-violence' and peace is now becoming an easy identity for branding. By Cynthia Chandran