Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Adulterated Food: Hindus Sue

A New Jersey restaurant that served meat to a group of vegetarian Hindus may have to pick up the tab for their trip to India for a cleansing ritual, a court panel ruled.

The three-judge panel reinstated a lawsuit filed against Moghul Express, an Indian restaurant in Edison that admitted serving meat-filled pastries to 16 Hindus, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.

The group's religion bars them from eating meat, and the diners said the mix-up tainted them spiritually.

To save their souls, the group claims, they must wash themselves in India's Ganges River, more than 8,000 miles away.

And they want the restaurant to foot the bill.

"If you follow the scriptures, it's definitely a huge cost," Mehul Thakkar, a spokesman for the Yogi Divine Society, a Hindu nonprofit, told the Star-Leger.

The purification ceremony can last upwards of 30 days, putting the cost somewhere in the thousands, Thakkar said.

The group sued after unknowingly noshing on meat-filled samosas during an Indian Day celebration in August 2009.

Moghul Express had assured them the flaky treats were vegetarian, but after the group tasted them and complained, the kitchen admitted it mixed up their order.

A Superior Court threw the case out last year, but the diners appealed and won on Monday.

Pradip Kothari, president of the Indo-American Cultural Society in Edison, called the lawsuit "a hypocrisy of the law."

"They can go to a temple here and ask God for forgiveness. God is not going to punish you for doing something unknowingly," he told the Star-Ledger.