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Cakes with gods' images shock Hindus in UK

Cakes with gods' images shock Hindus in UK

Author: Shyam Bhatia in London
Publication: Rediff on Net
Date: May 3, 2002

Hindu activists in London are outraged by a London store's decision to sell iced fruit cakes decorated with the likenesses of Indian gods and a goddess.

The luxury cakes that depict a frolicking Lord Ganesha against a backdrop of pink icing, as well as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and goddess Lakshmi, are on sale in the patisserie section of Selfridges on Oxford Street.

They are displayed next to the pani puri and tiffin carrier stalls set up by the Taj group, co-sponsors of the Bollywood theme month that was inaugurated on Thursday by film stars Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia and Madhuri Dixit.

The Bollywood theme that runs right through the various shopping zones of Selfridges has attracted widespread media and public approval, but the Hindu cakes are an altogether different issue.

"I think this is depicting the Hindu pantheon in a mocking way," said Bimal Krishna Das of the UK Council of Hindu Temples. "They wouldn't do this with Christian deities. They shouldn't do this to us, the Hindu community will be offended."

Vishva Hindu Parishad's UK general secretary Kishore Ruparelia said: "I am flabbergasted that they have gone to these lengths to depict our gods and goddesses.

"They wouldn't present Jesus Christ in this way. It's disrespectful and makes a mockery of our religious beliefs."

The cakes have been made on Selfridges' behalf by Seriously Scrumptious, which describes itself as "a newly established company which provides an exquisite range of luxury handcrafted cakes and desserts, including gourmet gateaux, passionately designed pavlovas and seriously divine chocolate tortes, Seriously Scrumptious handmade biscuits, traybakes, cookies and much more..."

Company founder Rita Hraiz, who is half Indian and half Lebanese, told rediff.com: "We put love into what we do. We are not embarrassed to talk about our spiritual leanings.

"Quite a lot of our staff have been to India and feel a lot of love for the country and 20 per cent of our profits go to the Tulsi Trust, which serves some villages near Vrindavan."

Hraiz added that the cakes were made as an offering to the divine and hoped they would not offend anyone.

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