A non-vegetarian food fair (mela) in times of bird flu scare. Amused, well don’t be.
More than 5,000 people queued up to feast on free chicken curry and boiled eggs at the Sector-21 market on Wednesday, after the Chandigarh Meat Market Welfare Association distributed these ‘delicacies’, to spread the word that it was safe to consume non-vegetarian dishes in this season of Christmas and New Year festivities.
By the end of the day, over 300-kg cooked chicken and 10,000 eggs had been consumed.
Atul Sonkar, president of the association, said, “The winter is peak business season for us. This unnecessary scare of bird flu has hit sales and people are scared to buy chicken and eggs. By organising this meat fair (mela), we want to send out a message that people can continue to consume these items.”
The expenses for the fair were shared between meat sellers from across the city and owners of these shops also helped themselves to generous helpings of these items in their tents.
Many owners resented the fact that the bird flu scare had hit business. Members claimed that another such fair would be held on Friday opposite a newspaper office in Sector 29.
Meanwhile, it was once in a life-time feast for some. Ram Sharan, a native of Bihar, and a rickshaw puller in the city said, “I got a call from my nephew, who works at a department store, in Sector 21. I was told to enjoy free chicken and eggs. We have taken repeat servings and even packed some for our families. I don’t know anything about bird flu; however, it has been the best winter treat for me, so far.”
There were arguments over queue formation as people jostled to to take as many helping as they could. ‘Hoarding’ was witnessed with eggs being carried away in polythene bags.
“This is the first time, I am getting so many helpings of both chicken and egg. We generally do not get such food to eat and when we do get it, the supply is limited,” said Munish, an auto driver.
Interestingly, over the past few days, prices have held firm in spite of the bird flu scare.