Here’s some good news for mothers visiting the iconic Taj Mahal: an air-conditioned baby feeding room will be opened at the premise on Thursday.
The Taj Mahal, with an average of 22,000 daily visitors, is a major hotspot for Indian and international tourists. Earlier this year, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had announced to build a breastfeeding room as a relief to female visitors.
The nursing room at Taj Mahal will be inaugurated by Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Thursday.
The Taj Mahal, built as a monument to a woman who died in childbirth, would be a first for India where conservative attitudes toward public breastfeeding mean nursing mothers are often shamed and told to cover up.“It is the first baby feeding room to open at any Indian monument,” Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, Superintending Archeologist at ASI, told IANS.
“It’s a 12-by-12 feet room within the Taj Mahal campus. It has a diaper-changing table, sofa sets specially designed so one can feed her baby, and there is also rubber flooring. One woman employee will be there to assist the mothers. The room will allow privacy to breastfeeding mothers and is very important,” he said.
The nursing room at Taj Mahal could be the first of a series of such centres at other monuments.
An ASI official said a similar baby feeding room is getting ready at the Agra Fort, and within a month, another such centre could come up at Fatehpur Sikri monuments.
Earlier, when announcing the idea for the baby feeding room, Swarnkar had declared that it would help the “millions of mothers who visit with their babies”.
A regular visitor to the 17th century monument to eternal love, Swarnkar said he got the idea last week when he spotted a mother hiding under a staircase and struggling to breastfeed her baby despite her husband providing extra cover.“I could see it was so difficult for her (to feed her child) which is a basic motherhood right. So I thought we have to do something,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Public breastfeeding still carries a social stigma in India where mothers are expected to be covered head-to-toe.
The Taj Mahal attracts up to 8 million visitors annually.
(With input from IANS and Reuters.)