By Gurbir Singh:
The news-story of Jaswinder Paul, a Hindu man from Blenheim, New Zealand who ate beef wrongly labelled as lamb, has grabbed headlines across the world, and a mixed reaction as well.
“According to my religion, I have to go back to my country and do sacred things for four to six weeks, and be purified by priests, so I can continue on my religious path. It’s a long process,” he earlier told Stuff.
This label mix up by supermarket, Countdown store at Blenheim was in September 2018 when the store inadvertently labelled a pack of beef as ‘lamb roast’ that Paul bought and claims to have eaten. He has now reportedly demanded from Countdown to pay for his fare to India for ‘purification,’ and compensation for business losses for the days he has to be away.
This has evoked a mixed reaction from a cross-section of public. One intrigued reader,‘MacDoctor’ asked in a comment online: “Are there no Hindu priests in NZ? That would seem improbable.”
NewsViews approached Mukand Lal Kaushik, a former priest of Sri Durga Temple and Mata Chintapurni Temple, Melbourne and sought his views on this.
“No doubt eating beef (in some sects, any kind of meat) is prohibited in Hindu religion as cow is considered very sacred. But, in my personal view, if unknowingly and without any intention one consumes beef while visiting or residing overseas, the best thing is to visit any Hindu temple close by and seek forgiveness from God and ask priest to offer prayers (kshma yaachna) on his behalf for this sin,” Kaushik said.
“Admitting mistakes and adopting a resolution and seeking forgiveness washes such sins,” Kaushik, who is also a former Navy veteran, added.
Referring to Jaswinder Paul’s case, “there is no need to go to India for purification. He consumed a small amount of beef unknowingly, and he is not personally at fault. This is only required if someone wishes to reconvert to Hinduism,” he commented.
Similar views were echoed by Sanjay Patel, Coordinator of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Christchurch when NewsViews spoke to him this morning.
“Atonement can be done in any temple, even at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Christchurch,” Patel said.
“Anyone can make a mistake and Lord will understand. He only has to go to a temple, apologise to his own god – be it Lord Shiva, Krishna or Rama, offer prayers and seek forgiveness. If he comes to our temple, we can definitely help. Temple has a special ‘mala’ (string of beads) to chant prayers and he can chose the number of times he wishes to do -11, 21 or 61,” Patel added.
In Hinduism, cows are considered sacred, and last year some people were assaulted, beaten, and even murdered for allegedly causing harm to cows or transporting beef.
In an online post, Arty. A. Rower commented: “He should have one of his many relatives in India post him a bottle of water from the Ganges at Varinasse then drink it. That will surely purge him of everything …”.
Paul moved from India to Blenheim two decades ago and now runs a Headmaster Barber salon in Blenheim.
Earlier, he owned R.K.K Enterprises and last year was asked by Employment Relations Authority to pay over $20,000 in penalties and unpaid wages to his vineyard workers.
NewsViews was unable to reach Paul for his comments.
Jaswinder Paul, who earlier declined a $200 gift voucher from Countdown, may now take legal action for compensation.