McDonald’s is facing a huge battle with senior Hindu religious leaders over the locations of its latest sites in India.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the first site, Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, is home to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, one of Hinduism’s four holiest shrines. The shrine is a steep ascent of 3,000 feet from Katra, high in the Himalayan foothills and a ten-mile hike through difficult terrain.
The second vegetarian restaurant is planned for Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, the centre of the Sikh religion in Punjab. Both form part of the fast food giant’s aim to double its size in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Although Sikhs are not forbidden from eating meat, their temples serve only free vegetarian food to pilgrims and visitors. The opening of vegetarian-only outlets is the latest attempt by the global giant to win over an initially resistant people wedded to their own distinct spicy cuisine.
Beef has never been on the menu since McDonald’s first opened its first Indian store in Delhi in 1996. It has served chicken nuggets, lamb sausage muffins and fish burgers, while its local stores have become largely unrecognisable from their Western outlets.
Hindu nationalist group Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a branch of the influential Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said it would oppose McDonald’s plans, and described them as an attempt to ‘humiliate Hindus’.