Ashwin Shukla Paksha Ashtami, Kaliyug Varsh 5116
Janmashtami celebration by cake cutting at a Temple in Canada
On August 20th 2014, alert Hindus notified Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) regarding a Janmashtami celebration in a temple in Canada during which a cake bearing Shrikrushna’s name was cut.
HJS sent a letter to the Swamiji of the temple explaining to him why cutting a cake is an inauspicious act. Further, it was explained to him how cutting a cake with Shrikrushna’s name on it amounts to denigration. He was also urged to visit the HJS website to learn about the correct way of celebrating festivals according to the science of spirituality. HJS requested the Swamiji not to repeat this denigration in future celebrations.
In his reply, the Swamiji justified the cake cutting, but also apologized, so HJS sent Him another letter on the 28th of August about how to convince youth with Dharma education (Dharma-Shikshan), so they do not feel the need for a cake cutting.
Pasted below is the correspondence between HJS and the Swamiji –
Letter from Hindu Janajagruti Samiti
From: HJS Protest Team Date: 08-25-2014 12:09 AM (GMT-05:00)
|| Shree ||
To whom it may concern,
We at Hindu Janajagruti Samiti have received complaints from Hindus about your temple’s Janmashtami celebration by cutting a cake with Shrikrushna’s Holy Name. Hindu Janajagruti Samiti is a registered NGO in India doing social, Dharmik (religious) and national welfare work. Samiti is active throughout the world, educating people about Hindu Dharma in a scientific way, campaigning against malpractices done under Dharmik practices and solving problems connected with the national, Dharmik and social field. For further details, please refer our website
Celebrating Janmashtami by cutting a cake is incorrect for the following reasons :
1. Cake cutting is an inauspicious act
2. Cutting a cake with Lord Krushna’s Holy Name is blatant denigration, as His Holy Name is cut, too.
3. If the cake has egg, it is a tamasik food being offered for the auspicious occasion of Janmashtami. People in the local community look up to the Hindu temple as a place for Hindu worship and Hinduism learning. By performing such acts as cutting a cake on Janmashtami day, the temple is sending out a wrong message to the local (and now via Facebook, to the global) community that it is okay for Hindus to celebrate Janmashtami by cutting a cake.
Instead the temple should perform Janmashtami related rituals as given in the Dharmashastra, such as performing pooja unto Shreekrushna, wherein His murti (idol) is placed on a swing and with devotion, it is offered many sumptuous dishes, in particular kheer (a sweet dish made from milk, sugar and rice or vermicelli) or halva/sheera (a sweet dish made from semolina, ghee and sugar). The fast of the earlier day, Shreekrushna Jayanti is also ended at midnight by partaking this prasad and then distributing it to devotees, or by partaking dahikala (a preparation from curds) the next morning of Janmashtami.
The temple can be decorated in a sattvik manner for the occasion. Kirtans can be sung, bells rung, the conch blown, and Sanskrit hymns recited in praise of Shrikrushna. At Mathura (a city in North India, near the birthplace of Shrikrushna), special spiritual gatherings are organized at this time. Pilgrims from all over India attend these festive gatherings.
Learn more at : http://www.sanatan.org/en/a/40_gokulashtami.html
Considering the denigration caused by celebrating Janmashtami by cutting a cake, we hope that you will rectify this for the future.
Reply from Swamiji
Date: Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 12:21 PM
To whom it may concern,
First of all we don’t know who has registered a complaint at your organisation, but he/she is certainly not a member of our congregation who attended our Janmashtami celebration.
Because that person would know very well how we celebrated our Janmashtami celebration.
We follow and preach the Vaidic Sanatan Dharma and all our celebrations at the Temple according to Vaidic tradition and shaastras.
Our Mandir was beautifully decorated with Bhagvanji wearing beautiful Paushaak and adorned with garlands. A beautiful decorated Palnaa was there with a very Divine Bal Gopal also decorated with beautiful paushaak, mukut, haar and garland. At mid night everyone did puja and aarti of Bhagvan Shri Krishna in the jhula. All kinds of sweets were offered to Him which were all homemade and especially homemade maakhan mishri was offered to Him.
Preaching here in the west where everyone is very much influenced by western customs we teach vegetarianism. On birthdays of devotees we bake for them a pure vegetarian cake with our own hands. We then teach them not to blow candles but to light a diya with the cake and pray for wisdom. Agni is the source of our lives and purifies the inner self enlightening one with wisdom.
Just think about all the young children growing here in the west and also desire to have cake for their birthdays. So we bake a pure vegetarian cake for them and teach them not to blow out fire but to lit the fire representing life.
As far as cutting a cake is regarded inauspicious by you. Cutting into a certain sweet dish is not something inauspicious. If we make a tray of burfi we also have to cut it in pieces to be able to first offer to Bhagvanji and then to distribute.
If a pure vegetarian cake made by our own self is cut and offered to Bhagvanji which is then distributed to devotees it is a very auspicious act.
At the end, I would like to thank you and we appreciate very much the work your organisation is doing of protecting our Sanatan Dharma which is what our life is for and what our mission is standing for; to teach and preach the Vaidic Sanatan Dharma based on science and logic.
By the way Hinduism is not the proper name for I would not even say our religion. The proper name is Sanatan Dharma which is not a religion, believe or blind faith. It is a way of life based on science and pure logic. It is meant for the whole humankind and not only Hindus. We would appreciate if you use the name Sanatan Dharma instead of Hinduism.
If you still think we have done something wrong in our celebrations, we offer our sincere apologies.
Jai Shri Krishna
Reply to the above letter by HJS
Auguest 28th, 2014
Namaskar, respected Swamiji,
We are glad to hear about your Janmashtami celebration as per the shaastra. The cake bore Shreekrushna’s name and thus, the inauspicious act of cutting Shreekrushna’s Holy Name took place when cutting the cake. Cutting some food item with a knife brings tamasik vibrations into the food item, be it cake or burfi. Hence, naivedya (food offering unto Deities) is generally of sattvik food items like sheera/sooji ka halva or kheer. We provide such Dharma education to children and youth as well, who are very receptive to following their birthday celebrations with aukshan and without cake as given in the shaastra, once they come to understand the science behind Dharmik rituals.
We use the terms ‘Sanatan Dharma’ interchangeably with ‘Hinduism’ since our non-Hindu/non-Indian readers interested in following Hinduism may not be familiar with the term ‘Sanatan Dharma’.
Through our website, posters and videos, offer a lot of Dharma education explained scientifically, to appeal to our current and future generations. We urge you to visit our website www.HinduJagruti.org and look forward to working with the Temple to disseminate it to your devotees and youth groups.