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July 21st, 2011
04:22 PM ET

Hindu diners sue Indian restaurant for selling meat samosas

By Moni Basu and Chelsea Bailey, CNN

(CNN) - A small tray of vegetable samosas costs $35 at the Mughal Express restaurant. But one particular tray, sold to strict Hindu vegetarians, might end up costing the Edison, New Jersey, restaurant a whole lot more.

The Hindu customers said the restaurant served them meat samosas, harming them emotionally and spirituality. A state appellate court ruled Wednesday that they can sue for the cost of travel to India to purify their souls.

Two summers ago, Durgesh Gupta and Sharad Agrawal walked into the popular Mughal Express on Oak Tree Road, in the heart of Edison's Indian community, and ordered samosas. They were strict vegetarians, they said in making sure there was no meat in their order of the traditional Indian snack.

Gupta said a restaurant employee assured them that it did not make meat samosas, according to court documents. A half-hour later, the two men picked up a tray labeled "VEG samosas."

But after Gupta and his group of 16 people began eating the triangular deep-fried pastries, they grew concerned they were eating meat. When they went to return the uneaten samosas, the restaurant said it had made a mistake, court documents showed.

Yes, the vegetarians had consumed meat and believed they were complicit in inflicting death and injury to God's creatures.

They sued Mughal Express but a lower court deemed they did not have a case - until this week, when the appellate court reversed that decision.

What the 16 Hindus want is compensation for a trip to the Hindu holy town of Haridwar, India, where the Ganges begins its downward flow to the ocean. There, they want to take dips in the river and, by Hindu belief, cleanse their souls of sin.

And they want the restaurant to pay for it all.

K. Raja Bhattacharya, the lawyer for the vegetarian diners, and David Novack, an attorney representing the restaurant, both declined comment because the case is ongoing.

In 2002, McDonald's Corp. paid $10 million to Hindu, vegetarian and other groups in order to settle a lawsuit against the company for failing to disclose that beef flavoring was used in French fries.

The company began advertising the fries were vegetarian after they switched to vegetable oil to reduce cholesterol, but the fries contained small amounts of beef flavoring added at the processing plant.

But the McDonald’s case may have been more compelling because it was not just an isolated incident of accidental service of meat, said Suhag Shukla, legal council for the Hindu American Foundation.

The Mughal Express customers who sued thought it otherwise. An Indian restaurant should have been more sensitive to this issue, they argued.

Still, some Hindus felt the diners were taking things too far. They doubted whether there was any karmic debt associated with the consumption of meat.

Pradip Kothari, president of the Indo-American Cultural Society in Edison, suggested the diners could easily go to a temple to cleanse their souls.

Indian-Americans have much to be grateful for in America, he said, and the lawsuit takes advantage of a U.S. judicial system that has afforded them individual protections.

"I understand how they feel," Kothari said. "I myself am a Hindu. But this is hypocrisy of the law."

And of religion, he said. "If you are a true religious person, God teaches you to forgive."

He did not know the diners, he said, but they should be ashamed for bringing a bad name not just to Hindus but to the
Indian-American community.

As for Mughal Express, there were no non-vegetarian samosas on the online menu Thursday.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Hinduism • New Jersey

soundoff (1,722 Responses)
  1. Bus2

    Apparently Hindus aren't above using a frivolous lawsuit to score a free vacation...

    July 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  2. HEART

    George, AU, MARIO you all said it right! Besides, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. It was a risk eating out when you have limits with your food selection. A healthy human body needs meat.
    Although I do feel sorry for these people who have unknowingly eaten meat, they should probably just forgive the restaurant owner for this mistake.
    Shaas, just because some people have become rich by suing restaurants doesn’t mean other people should make the same decisions all the time! Just like when a terrorist demand for money, you cannot tolerate the next batch of terrorist for the same. I’ve heard about the McDonalds manager who sued MCDonalds for gaining weight after working for the company for more than 20 years and having the privilege to eat free McDonald meals. He won the case eventhough he was bad for business, but still it doesn’t mean that the other managers should sue too. They have brains and are old enough to realize what harm they can do to their bodies. If they were real Hindus, they can forgive. It was absolutely an honest mistake. The restaurant owners don’t handle the restaurants personally. They hire people/crew, so it wasn’t really the owner’s intention to serve them meat samosas.
    MA, PRINCEZOLTAN you should read the BIBLE so you’ll have answers for your questions. You will understand why JESUS was sacrificed and why HE was there in the first place. I can’t believe how people can say badly of Christianity and the BIBLE without first understanding it. The Bible teaches good morals. You can find it out yourself if you want by starting to read it. Otherwise, don’t try to make judgments if you don’t know a single thing about it. Besides, who kept tracks of your holy books? Who wrote your holy books?
    Spydee, as a mother I think it’s your duty not to expose your child to these restaurants who serve veg and non veg dishes at the same time. It’s just too risky. Even if you don’t see the actual meat inside your dish, it’s most likely that they use ingredients from animals to enhance the taste of their dishes. Eating outside is always a risk. These are strange people who touches/prepares your food. You don’t know what happens inside their kitchens. Like if one crazy crew wants to sabotage the menu and spit or pee on the food, you won’t have any means to find it out.
    People, don’t try to preach here if you’re going to stoop down and badmouth later. Hinduism, Muslim, Jewish, Christianity.. And all religions are different but should be respected all the same.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  3. kHUSRO KHAN

    I think that the restaurant owner shall tender an apology verbally and in writing, never to repeat their carelesness. Its something wiyh somebodys personal belief. Also the group shall excuse the res staff for their silly mistake. We being muslims enconter these kinds of problems especially in terms of fast foods all over north america in case of pork/swine/bacon. We are very careful in terms of selecting the proper food outlet/food court/restaurant. In islam pork intotally prohibited (even touching it), most disliked by chain of prophets. We muslims believe that before doomsday jesus christ will kill all the pork from the planet earth.
    Insha allah(god willing)
    khan

    July 27, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  4. AU

    Part of the issue is there is no clear definition of what is allowed or forbidden in 'Hinduism'. In India, the majority of hindus consume meat, unlike the diners, so are they less hindu than these diners ? If the diners are so allergic to meat, they should probably remain in India. But, to demand a plane ticket is simply atrocious. Surely, they would have known that a lot of meat, especially beef, gets consumed in he US and it is only expected that such things can happen. Poor restaurant owner !

    July 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  5. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    Please exercise caution while viewing the following video, but it is necessary for everyone of us meat eaters to see how the animals we eat are slaughtered.

    I NEVER EAT HALAL/KOSHER MEAT...................PERIOD!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_bZzxep87c&w=640&h=360]

    July 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Yum

      Thanks...BTW, have you ever had an In-n-Out Double Double? Heaven on a bun my friend.

      July 26, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  6. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    DUTCH BAN HALAL/KOSHER MEAT.

    I am Hindu, while I eat meat I refuse to eat HALAL/KOSHER meat.

    https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/28/dutch-ban-on-jewish-muslim-butchering-passes-hurdle/

    July 26, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  7. Mario

    What's next? Sue US government to get 'Ganga' cleaned up...

    July 26, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  8. Beatrice

    Hindus need to trust in Jesus alone for salvation, just like the fattened, hedonistic, semi-Hinduistic Americans do.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Ron

      Judging from how many times you have posted this same junk on this forum, you need to pray to god to get you a life!

      July 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  9. kpal

    This is silly. Im a hindu and vegetarian and if these people REALLY wanted to follow Hinduism they would forgive the restaurant for the mistake and move on with their life peacefully as would any good spiritual being would do so..........

    July 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  10. AvdBerg

    A number of people that have written to respond to this article have spoken of the interpretation of the Bible, which is the number one problem in this present world as the Bible itself teaches us that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20). Only few people (Matthew 7:14) are able to understand the Bible and as long as mankind remains separated from God, the Word of God will remain a mystery.

    Mankind in his natural state is unable to understand the Bible and unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

    There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). The only thing that separates the Natural body from the Spiritual body is the Baptism of Repentance (Mark 1:4). To repent means: to change spirits and to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan, whose spirit mankind is of (Luke 9:55), unto God (Acts 26:18). This is not an interpretation. Many people search the Bible for in them they think they have eternal life, but when we bring them the Scriptures they don’t believe us (John 5:38,39). Confused? There is no need to be confused any longer. For a better understanding of the mystery of God we invite you to read all the pages and articles of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    So, before mankind will be able to understand the Word of God, mankind requires to be converted and transformed by God (not by any religion) and only then mankind is able to understand the Bible, as it is God (John 1:1).

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    July 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • ....

      Still trolling trying to sell your cult and book it's complete garbage. Click the report abuse link to get rid of this troll.

      July 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  11. Shaas

    No, Mr. Kothari. The scriptures of Christians and Hindus teach that "As you sow, so shall you reap" and "the law of Karma". If the restaurant, mischieviously, tried to give them a lesson "Oh, you will not die from a little meat", now the restaurant will get a lesson that some people take their rights, their health, their religion, and their purity, seriously.
    Best wishes

    July 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  12. Shaas

    The rights of Vegetarians are being more & more accepted and considered. At last!

    July 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Mario

      These aren't rights.. this is a scam and trying to cash on a geniune mistake. Well i guess they will all get a free 5 star all inclusive trip to India for couple of weeks. Cheap azzes

      July 26, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  13. George

    If you are that concerned about your food intake don't eat out. Buy groceries and prepare them yourself. Any eating out always risks the chance of: improperly prepared food, bacteria in the food, food prepared by people who do not wash carefully, and food you did not order. People are human; they make mistakes. I have had all of those things happen to me over the last 60 years. It's just life folks. I, too, am sick of the sue happy mentatility we have.

    July 25, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Shaas

      Come on, George. Hindu have their rights, too. Christians would sue the restaurant for millions of dollars. What's in a few tickets to Ganga?

      July 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Mario

      scam for tickets or millions, still doesn't justify it

      July 26, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • AU

      It is due to such narrow minded people that many Indians go starving, while cows roam about freely and are not allowed to be slaughtered as food. These Hindus seem to value the life of a cow, but not that of a human. I wish they would look at their own teeth in the mirror and ask why GOD gave them the canines, if HE had intended only vegetarian food for them ?. And how come the human digestive system is capable of digesting meat ?? it's the SAME GOD who has created the carnivores, herbivores and omnivores. THINK !!! do these hindus believe the tiger and lion will to hell cos they eat other animals ?

      July 26, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  14. Beatrice

    The Kingdom of God is not in drinking or eating, but in knowing God(Jesus) and living by His Spirit. Earthlings, read the Bible.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Joshua the Agnostic

      Their Hindu genius.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Charles

      What a narrow minded bigot. You know, Christianity is not the only religion in the world, right? Now I know you guys like to think that it's the only "right" religion, but the majority of the world disagrees with you – and baby Jebus.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Shaas

      Yes, Beatrice, and that is why christians do not eat? Or do not eat pure things? Or invented McDonalds? Or why they have been fed with fish and bread? All because "Kingdom of God is not in eating and drinking"!!! Do read Bible yourself!

      July 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • MA

      If GOD is all powerful and created / controls everything in the universe, why does he have to 'sacrifice' his son / himself in 'human form' in such a brutal way to forgive sins...and save us from hell that he himself created / controls?

      July 25, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  15. EM

    As someone with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I know the pain and anxiety that is associated with a belief that you have done something wrong spiritually. It is an overwhelming feeling of guilt. It is very difficult to ignore. I sympathise with these vegeterian Hindus, and I think the rest of you would too, if you could put yourselves into their shoes.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  16. dslguy

    Money is the root of all evil, that being said these people are sinners for taking advantage of the legal system for money as thier no better than people who rob others at will thier just doing it the legal way. I think america is taking these silly little things to far as people have turned into sue happy people over anything and everything and these things we sue over would have ment nothing in the early 80's and 90's. We've turned into evil money grubbing pus. sy. s. and you know it, do us a favor throw it out of court and all the other b. s . lawsuits as its costing all us in higher prices on everything.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  17. evy

    wow.......just wow..........
    if them eating meat was an accident, i think that their god would be forgiving and rid them of their sin IN AMERICA.......

    July 24, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  18. asiansmmtl

    Again, other extremist religious scammers who want a free trip to India. They are really unscrupulous. I though Evading paying taxes is their national sport, now free trip too. May be we will see an avalanche of free trip to Jerusalem, Mecca, Tibet ....

    July 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • HZ

      I think it's more likely that you're a liar than 16 people who went out for a meal. Also that restaurant was run by an Indian so the owner should have known all about the potential liability of serving the wrong food to a Hindu.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Spydyee

      I support their lawsuit because i have a child with food allergies to meat and if I had asked the person if the dish contained meat and fed it to my child he would have gotten sick and could have died. If it had been my child I would have expected them to cover all expenses related to whatever damage my child had due to the negligence of their employees. My child's damage would have been physical but I cannot see how I would expect to be compensated for his physical problems without supporting the right of a Hindu to be compensated wot their perceived spiritual damages. The diners stated to the server that they wanted a vegetarian dish. I am going to assume that the server told the cooks. Somewhere between the cooks and the server communication broke down and these people were served a dish they were not supposed to be eating. If it had been my son he could have died from it. The restaurant has a responsibility under ServeSafe Rules in this country to be mindful of food allergies and cultural beliefs when serving foods.

      July 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Dovit

      If you serve pork to a Jewish person, you had better believe they will sue you. And they have a right to do so!

      July 24, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Charles

      @HZ -- Not all Indians are practicing Hindu's and the practicing ones have different levels of belief. Am I expected to know everything that Christians care about since it's the dominant religion in America? Even if I do know how important a religious belief is, why should I have to be any more concerned with getting their order correct just because it's a religious belief? If these people had a medical reason for not eating meat it would be one thing, but I think they should at least have to PROVE that they have a soul (or at least that souls do, in fact, exist) to be damaged before they claim damages to it.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Charles

      @Spydyee
      You really don't see a difference between actual physical damages and "perceived spiritual damages"? I can prove to you that anaphylactic reactions are indeed real. "Perceived spiritual damages" are just that; PERCEIVED.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  19. Reality

    Beyond friviolous lawsuits:

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror

    One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity.

    The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and non-profits since there is there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    July 24, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • Spydyee

      This is not about religion per se. It is about negligence on the part of the restaurant employees. I have a child with food allergies to meat. We often eat in Chinese and Indian restaurants because it is pretty easy to get veg dishes with no meat sauces or additives. If he had eaten the plate of food he would have gotten sick and could have died. I do not care if they are Hindu and this is a spiritual thing for them it is negligence on the part of the employees of the restaurant and if it had been me and my kid I might be burying my kid right now from this. This level of irresponsibility in the food service industry is unacceptable.

      July 24, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  20. Beatrice

    Hindus need to trust in Jesus and Him alone for salvation. God's Word, the Bible says humans have only one-time life to live on earth and after that eternal judgment – never coming back to this world. And the Bible also says people can never be god but need faith in Jesus alone for eternal life in Heaven.

    July 24, 2011 at 5:46 am |
    • malik

      wow.....you need to go outside and ride a bike, take a walk or do SOMEthing active. how about go to church and practice YOUR faith instead of partaking in this newest of American pastimes; spreading HATE, fear, ignorance and intolerance. i see that you have made it a point to post your views in every single non-christian article. please, know and learn that the world is entering a different phase, unlike any before it, and we are all growing closer together, as one, irregardless of faith. there is no reason for this kind of intolerance and, simply put, it's a bit scary, beatrice.

      July 24, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • Beatrice

      Everyone, including Hindus, needs to be told truth. Stupid secular West cannot free the Dalits in India.

      July 24, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Thia

      Beautifully put, malik.

      July 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Beatrice

      Bullying is atheists' hallmark. They can't fight alone. They do it even in blog sites. Cowards.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • princezoltan

      Beatrice Let me tell you the truth, the bible was first written 80 to 100 years after the last disciple of Christ, then re written in 400ad then again 1500ad and many times since and probably before. So the only person I see as a coward is you hiding behind your book that has been written by man.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Beatrice

      Zoltan, that's your wild imagination. Manuscripts were utmost carefully preserved as the originals were. The Jews and European scholars were nothing like pagans. Pagans should stop imagining things and start reading the Bible, the unchanged Word of God. If you read it at all, you'd know it was written by eye-witnesses, unchanged, and inspired by God's Spirit.

      July 25, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Joshua the Agnostic

      If I hear one more BLIND Christian on here saying that these people's problems would go away if they accept Jesus I'm going to vomit. Name one thing that has been cured on this world by Christianity? You took the teachings of a Rabbi and made him a demi-god. You walk around like you have magical healing powers by closing your eyes and saying Father God every 3 words of your prayers.

      As ridiculous as this lawsuit is, it has nothing to do with your religion. So stop the ethnocentrism and your holier than thou babble and actually do something that Jesus would have done. Sell all of your possessions and aid the poor. Stand up for those oppressed. You don't want these people to follow Christ, you want them to be Americanized and forget their heritage.

      July 25, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Agnostic

      Seriously, proselytizing for the sake of expanding your religious base is such a cheap thing to do. The hindu religion is not a religion in itself. Many devout hindus that I know see that as a way of life that does no harm to the environment and the people they live with. They do believe in deities and gods. There is enough flexibility based on your life style. So in reality, Beatrice, you are a hindu who is practicing Christianity. I am an agnostic who doesnt believe in a "god", but nevertheless believe in forces of nature that manifest in the form of phenomena.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.