Museum flushes out toilet taboos

New Delhi museum is
trying to break taboos
surrounding toilets
SENSITIVE ISSUE: A New Delhi museum is trying to break taboos surrounding toilets

A THRONE with a built-in commode for a French monarch takes pride of place at a New Delhi museum trying to break ta­boos surrounding toilets in a country where such convenience remains a sensi­tive issue.

The replica of the wooden throne used by King Louis XIV is among a treasure trove at the Sulabh International Muse­um of Toilets.

The French king is believed to have struggled with constipation and held au­diences while defecating to save time, say the museum curators.

Scores of curious visitors stop by daily to see the centuries-old commodes, chamber pots and bidets as well as a 21st century machine that turns human waste into ash in seconds.

“It is quite an unusual museum and I believe it’s the only one of its kind in the world,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the museum and the non-profit Sulabh International.

“The idea was to start a healthy conver­sation about sanitation and toilets. We wanted to tell people toilet is not a dirty word,” he said, playing with a small black ball made from dried human waste mixed with glue.

Pathak said the museum has gained traction since being named among the world’s top 10 whacky museums by Time magazine in 2014.

“Hundreds of visitors come now on the weekends,” said the 74-year-old, affec­tionately known as India’s ‘Toilet Guru’.

The walls of the museum are plastered with toilet room jokes as well as Victori­an-era pictures of ‘basket women’ in Eu­rope carrying night-soil – fertiliser made from human faeces.

Some 70 per cent of Indian households do not have a toilet – while 90 per cent have access to mobile phones.