International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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19th World Vegetarian Congress 1967
Delhi/Bombay/Madras, India

From The British Vegetarian, March/April 1968:


(Compiled by the General Secretary, G. L. Rudd, from reports by Shri I. N. Mankar and Mr. B. Gunn-King)

UNDER the guidance of Mrs. Rukmini Devi Arundale, India's great teacher and patron of the Arts, and with the skilful organisation led by Shri J. N. Mankar, the I.V.U.'s Regional Organiser for India and the East, the second World Vegetarian Congress sponsored by India was held from 18th November to 7th December, 1967.

The refusal of Air India to fly passengers from England without prior vaccination prevented many delegates from attending, including Dr. Gordon Latto, Dr. Barbara Latto, and Mrs. Isabel James. The General Secretary and Secretary of London Vegetarian Society were also debarred by this iniquitous condition. A strike by pilots also caused additional chaos and made "official receptions" at the airports in India very difficult for the Indian hosts. Even the Presi-dent and his wife, the Marquis and Marchioness de St. Innocent missed the opening sessions due to their boat being unable to use the Suez Canal - all this despite the Indian Government's gracious waiving of all suggestion of vaccination for incoming and outgoing delegates.

However, some fifteen countries sent parties and representatives who enjoyed the generous hospitality given by the Indian hosts - Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Japan. Morocco, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America.

It is reported that the National Press and All-India Radio gave excellent coverage of Congress activities, while delegates had unique opportunities to meet eminent Government officials. One of the happy outcomes was the establishment of the Indian Vegetarian Youth Organisation, and regional branches are being formed in all the main cities.

Left to right: Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale, Shri Morarji Desai (Deputy Prime Minister of India), His Holiness The Dali Lama, Shri J.N.Mankar and Shri S.M.Mehta. Innauguration of the XIXth International Vegetarian Congress, Mavlankar Hall, New Delhi, India. November 18th, 1967.


Buffalo at Delhi Racecourse

Namdhari Sikh womenfolk at a Reception held in New Delhi

A Vegetarian Writer's Conference being addressed by His Holiness S.J.Singhi (with microphone), who is the spiritual leader of the Namdhari Sikhs.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama at the Congress

IVU Congress Food Fair
Tibetans at their stall in Delhi at the Food Fair after the Dalai Lama had opened the Congress.

Some of the Namdhari Sikhs bringing trays of food when they entertained the IVU Congress delegates in Delhi.

Mrs Indira Gandhi talking to Mr Brian Gunn-King and Miss Patching [later Margaret Gunn-King] when among other pieces of literature they presented her with The British Vegetarian.

Wearing a mouth mask as a symbol of his desire to harm no living thing, a Jain gives a welcome speech to IVU Congress delegates.

18th November. An impressive inauguration was held at the Mavlankar Auditorium in Delhi and the Patron-in-Chief, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, gave his blessing. He paid tribute to the I.V.U. and the Congress Organisers for their commendable efforts to popularise the vegetarian way of life as a forerunner of universal peace and the brotherhood of all created beings: and said that when there are so many substitutes for meat he could not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered for human diet. There is no justification for such brutality. [editor's note: the Dalai Lama was only vegetarian for about 18 months, which happened to be at the time of this Congress, further details at Dalai Lama ]

The Deputy Prime Minister of India, the Hon. Shri Morarji Desai, also honoured the inauguration and gave an inspiring speech, which we are reporting in The British Vegetarian, together with other outstanding lectures. Mrs. Rukmini Devi Arundale deputized for the President, delayed en route; and Shri J. N. Mankar concluded the ceremony after messages were read from many Societies.

A reception dinner was given in the evening by The Vegetarian Club at the National Sports Club of India, and the Chief Guest was Hon. Shri K. K. Shah, Minister for Information and Broadcasting.

19th November. An exciting round of sightseeing and meetings followed. Group meetings were held in various parts of Delhi. A congregation of religious groups was held under the Chairmanship of Hon. Shri V. V. Giri, Vice-President of India, and a variety of vegetarian animals, including an elephant, were paraded to show the efficacy of a vegetarian diet! The Minister of Food and Agriculture, the Hon. Shri M. S. Gurupadaswamy, opened a vast Vegetarian Fair and Cookery Exhibition which enabled visitors to try a great variety of indian dishes. The evening finished, after a session sponsored by Sushil Muniji, with a musical recital and Indian dances at the Azad Bhavan Auditorium, and this was honoured by the Hon. Shri K. S. Ramaswamy, the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs.

20th November. The first Business Sessions for Delegates were at the Constitution Club and covered many aspects of the movement. At a symposium important papers on health, economic and ethical aspects of vegetarianism were submitted, followed by questions and answers: Dr. Swaminathan. Head of the Agricultural Institute; Dr. V. N. Jai, of the Nutrition Section of Haffkine Institute; Mrs. Radha Karnard, of the Directorate General of Health Services: Dr. Sushila Nair, ex-Minister of Health, and many foreign delegates made valuable contributions. Lavish hospitality was given at meal times and Jain Monks made gifts of literature at a service led by Muni Shri Sumermall. In the evening a reception was given in the Red Fort by the Mayor of Delhi - an honour usually reserved for visiting Heads of State.

21st November. More Business Sessions and then a great lunch given by the Spiritual Leader of the Narndhari Sikhs, who are all vegetarians and a magnificent body of people - His Holiness Satguru Jagjit Singhi Ji. The President of India, Dr. Zakir Husain, honoured the Congress with an "At Home" at his palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Delegates were photographed with him and were presented personally. One of the I .V.U. Vice-Presidents, Shri V. H. Dalmia Prisi, gave a sumptuous dinner and the Guest of Honour was the Minister of Works. Housing and Supply. the Hon. Shri S. J. Rao.

22nd November. A first-class train trip to the Taj Mahal Agra with lunch at Clarks Shirez hotel. The local citizens receive delegates led by Shri S. Achalsinghji, M.P., and a reception by the Mayor of Agra was given at the Jain Girls' College. A memorable occasion. Some delegates stayed for the traditional moonlight view of the Taj, and visited Benares on the Ganges.

23rd November. Sightseeing around Delhi - the famous Birla temple, the Jantar Mantar stone observatory, the 234 feet high Qutab Minar were among the places visited. The Ministry of Information gave a film show and the Deputy Prime Minister graced the Farewell Dinner (so far as Delhi was concerned) at the signiflcant Ashoka Hotel.

24th- 27th November. It had been intended to hold the second sessions at Calcutta. and elaborate arrangements had been made by the Regional Committee there, supported by leading industrialists and Shri Radhakrishna Kanodia and Shri Dinesh H. Shah, with the innauguration by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Calcutta. Unhappily a series of strikes and riots caused the visit to Calcutta to be cancelled. Instead, the gap of three days afforded an opport-unity for the delegates to relax in Delhi and indulge in some Unexpected sightseeing. A party of thirty-two delegates were taken to Jaipur, a 17th century example of town-planning with an interesting palace and an old stone observatory. Museums were also visited. Others organized expeditions by car, while representatives of the British Vegetarian Youth Movement went to a morning audience of Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi, and found opportunity to present copies of The British Vegetarian, The Young Vegetarian and The Vegan.

27th November - 1st December. The sessions in Madras opened with a warm welcome by the Governor. Shri Sardar Nihalsingh, at his palace - Raj Bhavan, Guindy - although a previous meeting had taken place on 25th November under Presidentship of the Marquis de St. Innocent at University Centenary Hall, where Shri Bhaktavatsalam, Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale and distinguished supporters like Shri V. K. Krishna Menon made an excellent case for the vegetarian cause. Shri Nijalingappa. Chief Minister of Mysore State, in his inaugural address paid tributes to The I.V.U. and delegates for reminding India about its rich heritage of non-violence in which lay the solution of the world's main problem.

Several delegates' sessions were held and these were open to the public, which heard discussions on many aspects of vegetarianism. Generous hosts and organizations vied with each other in offering free dinners and lunches including the non-vegetarian proprietors of the Dasaprakash, Woodlands and Imperial Hotels. The Rajkumar of Vizianagram gave a dinner at the Madras Gymkhana Club and this was followed by an exhibition of yoga.

The Minister of Food, the Hon. Shri A. Gorindaswamy, opened a three-day Vegetable, Fruit and Cookery Exhibition at the new Centenary Auditorium of Madras University, which had been organised under the Chairmanship of Smt. Nalini Somasundaram. Thousands of people attended. Delegates were thrilled by a superb performance of music and dancing by the Kalakshetra artists at Tiruvanmiyur.

One of the outstanding events of the Congress was the Vegetarian Youth Session which was attended by more than 2,000 students. and by the end of the session some 300 had registered to form the Madras Youth Organisation. International youth was well represented on the platform by Mira Brandt and Ruth Dippel (of Holland), Jay Dinshah (U.S.A.), Brian Gunn-King, Greville Hawkins, Margaret Patching and Vivien Pick (of the U.K.).

The formation of the Youth Organisation was immediately celebrated by the President Marquis by cutting a beautiful eggless Birthday Cake with nineteen candles amid loud applause. Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale blessed the event and promised the close cooperation of the Indian Vegetarian Congress.

Group taken at the "At Home" given by the President of India, Dr.Zakir Husain, at his official Residential Palace, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

On the last day, 1st December, a coach visit was made to the temples and rock carvings at Marabalipuram and Kancheepuram, some forty miles from Madras. Delegates were entertained by the Lions Club at Kancheepuram and a visit was paid to a workshop where saris were handmade.

2nd - 6th December. The Deputy Prime Minister of India opened the Bombay Sessions at the Cricket Club of India and the occasion was attended by more than 3,000 people. In his inaugural speech His Holiness Shri Sankaracharya Maharaj of Dwarka em-phasized the need for adopting a vegetarian way of life for the eleva-tion of the soul. Shri Madanlal Somani, Chairman of the Regional Reception Committee, welcomed the delegates and guests, and expressed gratitude to The I.V.U. for holding its 19th World Congress in India. He said their presence would emphasize to the people of India that vegetarianism is a modern and progressive way to achieve health of body and mind.

His Holiness Shri Chinmayanandji Maharaj congratulated foreign delegates on adopting vegetarianism with such conviction. Smt. Rukmini Devi and Shri Lalchand Hiranchand (Chief Guest) also spoke and a splendid Reception Dinner was given at the Radio Club of Bombay. Much private hospitality was generously given.

Business and Group Sessions were well attended and papers were submitted at the special Health and Nutrition, and Medical Sessions, which were organised by Dr.M.M.Bhamgara, Chairman of the Committee and a well known Bombay naturopath and presided over by Pandit Shiv Sharma, M.P.

The Marquis opened another fascinating three-day Cookery, Culture and Crafts Exhibition at the Shrinitekatan Garden on Marine Drive, which had been arranged by Smt. Lilaben B.K.Shah and her group of cookery students. Professor C.N.Vakil, the well-known economist, spoke and laid stress on the value of vege-tarianism.

A religious gathering of 2,000 people was held at Chowpatty Beach and was honoured by the presence of Pujya Muni Chitrab-hanu Maharaj, and the Hon. Shri T. S. Bharde, Speaker of the Maharastra Legislative Assembly.

The Governor of the Maharastra State, the Hon. Dr. P. V. Cherian, gave an "At Home" at the Raj Bhavan at Malabar Point, and later presentations were made and exchanged at a
Farewell Dinner given by Shri Chatrabhag Narsi.

The Congress was proclaimed a great success and delegates would certainly have happy memories of their hosts and of the lavish hospitality so freely given.