Recently alert Hindus notified Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) regarding a fund-raiser for a Hindu Temple in the US. The temple was organizing an event featuring belly dancers and a comedian for raising funds for the temple. This was not aligned with any temple activities and it defeated the purpose of raising funds for the temple.
HJS sent a letter to the President of the Temple and the Co–Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee explaining how belly dancing and a comedy show are not spiritually beneficial for the audience as well the temple. The Committee was urged to cancel the events to maintain the sanctity of temple activities. They were also advised to visit the HJS website to learn about the Dharma and Spirituality.
The President replied saying that the belly dance program had been cancelled even prior to receiving HJS’s email.
Please see below the correspondence between HJS and the President of the Temple:
Email from Hindu Janajagruti Samiti
From HJS Protest team
Subject: Complaints about your upcoming Fundraiser with a comedian and belly dancers
We, at Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, are writing to you in reference to the Annual fundraising dinner to be held by the Hindu Temple. Hindu Janajagruti Samiti is a registered NGO in India, doing social, Hindu Dharma related and national welfare work. The Samiti is also active throughout the world, educating people about Hindu Dharma in a scientific way, campaigning against malpractices done as Hindu Dharma related practices and solving problems related to misrepresentation of Hindu Dharma. For further details please refer to our website www.HinduJagruti.org.
We are emailing you today because it was brought to our attention by some Hindus that the Annual fundraising dinner to be held by your organization will feature entertainment by Comedian & Belly Dancers. Raising funds for the temple is a pious act; however, organising activities which are not aligned with temple activities defeats the purpose of raising funds for the temple. If the path of raising funds is in line with Dharma, then the benefits obtained will be much more. In the case of raising funds for the temple through such entertainment, there are hardly any spiritual benefits from such an act.
A temple is a place for worshipping Deities, connecting with God, and going away from maya. When devotees visit a temple, due to the sattvikta of the activities in the temple, they too absorb the sattvikta. As a result, their mind calms down and they experience peace within. It is the duty of the temple management to ensure that the temple maintains sattvikta. Organising entertainment of a comedian and belly dancers decreases the sattvikta of not only the people/devotees; but of the entire society as well. There are other non-spiritual clubs, organisations, etc. who also organise such entertainment to raise funds. It would be hard to see the difference between their approach and a temple’s approach of raising funds.
You could have organised classical kathak dance recitals, Indian classical singing, Indian classical music, etc. which are paths of attaining God. This would have benefitted you and the audience.
A temple’s role is to impart education about Dharma, teach devotees how to go to God, how to increase sattvikta, how to reduce raja-tama, etc. Temples can easily organise activities like bhajans, satsangs, discourses by Saints, etc. which will not only raise funds but it will purify the minds of devotees by increasing sattvikta and thus will spiritually purify society. Such activities would earn maximum benefits and your spiritual practice would also occur in the process.
We have educational materials about Hinduism that can help your organization implement the points above; please let us know if you are interested in these materials.
We urge you to consider the above and make changes to your event. This way you would adhere to the true objectives of a temple and help all Hindus to share and experience Hinduism as it was meant to be experienced. We stress that our aim in bringing this up is to educate and ensure that a temple and its objectives get accurately represented in society. Hindus look up to temples for providing a spiritual platform, which can only be achieved by organising spiritual activities. You can take one step towards ensuring that temples get represented accurately by making changes to your event as we have requested.
If you would like to learn more about Hinduism, we encourage you to visit our page: http://www.hindujagruti.org/hinduism/hinduismcategories/hinduism
To read about spiritual practice, please visit the following link:
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti.
Reply from the President of the Temple and the Co-Chairman of the Fund Raising Committee
Thank you for your email.
Even though communication regarding the event has gone out, even prior to your email, we had made changes in our program.
The comedian is a well renowned comedian – who has done several fund raisers – even at other temples, and is aware and sensitive to issues related to a temple. He has done events at US presidential events and several high level events and venues in USA and all around the world.
As far as the belly dancers are concerned, that contract was terminated, even prior to your email. We have a young lady who will start off with a devotional bhajan.
However, just to point out – though the dancers are not part of the program anymore, these dancers are very professional and run a reputed college level dance classes. The dance they were going to perform was based in Indian songs, and their costume was going to be a Gujarati style chanyacholi with dhupata.
Our temple is very sensitive to various issues – and still decided to cancel the dance. Plus, since we have the comedian – along with a devotional song, this would suffix the entertainment portion of the program.
Thank you for your concern.