19th Diwali Virtual celebrations: E reception on 11th November 20 -16.00 to 18.000
The Hindu Forum of Britain [HFB] celebrated its 19th Diwali event at the House of Commons on the 11th November. For the first time in history, because of the COVID-19 lockdown, the celebrations took place in the virtual world with more than 94 celebrants in the webinar platform. Over 250 more watched the event on Face Book live turning it into a vibrant and colourful virtual space, full of light and colour, a wonderful manifestation of the spirit of Diwali. This year’s Parliamentary hosts were again Rt Hon Bob Blackman MP and Lord Dholakia OBE.
Dr Ramesh Pattni OBE, Vice President London and South and Trustee of the Chinmaya Mission UK welcomed guests on this great occasion and invited the spiritual commissioners to light the lamps to begin the festival. Visakha Dasi ji, President of the Bhakti Vedanta Manor, ISKCON Temple, Swami Surya Prabha Didi, Head of Brahmrishi Mission and Brahmacharini Shripriya ji Chaitanya, Spiritual head of Chinmaya Mission UK all lit the lamps and chanted prayers to welcome festival congregation.
The President of HFB and Trustee of the HFB Charity , Mrs Trupti Patel, in her opening address to virtual guests warmly welcomed everyone and spoke about the importance and significance of Diwali to the Hindu Community and how the profound principles that reflect this important festival was the basis on which the community responded to the COVID crisis in the UK, with a tremendous amount of sewa being given in all aspects of life in lockdown. She spoke about the formation of the Hindu Emergency, Response Action Team consisting of all the national organisations and temples in the UK coming together to deliver this service. The HFB Diwali at the HoC is one of the most important Interfaith event as participant from all faiths joined hands to dispel darkness and welcome light in their communities and beyond.
Bob Blackman, as the Chair of the British Hindus APPG, holder of Bharat Ratna, MP and Lord Navnit Dholakia, OBE DL also Patron of the HFB both wished everyone a safe, happy and Shubh Diwali. Bob Blackman conveyed the Diwali message from the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson MP and also launched the official E-Diwali Brochure.
Rt Hon. Priti Patel, MP the first Hindu Home Secretary spoke on virtues of the Diwali and how we have exercised them in the current situation, quoting, ‘Diwali is the festival of celebrating best of humanity. Our festival of light is a sign of optimism that we can get through this pandemic together and come out stronger’
Rt Hon. Rishi Sunak, the first Hindu Chancellor of the Exchequer mentioned how challenging this year has been for all but it’s because of the love and support we have from all our families makes this a very special occasion and encouraged everyone to celebrate Diwali safely by using technology.
Rt Hon, Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was delighted to be on HFB virtual event and gave a clear message to all communities to keep on working closely with each other to stand tall.
The Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Harvey Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons sent his greetings for safe Diwali celebrations this year filled with merriment and gladness.
The Rt Hon. Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the official opposition conveyed ‘Lighting a lamp on Diwali symbolises hope which dispels the darkness of despair.’ He appreciated the ‘Sewa’ given by Hindu Communities.
The Rt Hon. Jeremy Quin MP, Minister of State for Defence Procurement was moved by this year’s festival of light held on 11th November 2020, which incidentally is also Armistice Day. He said’ we will never forget that during the great war some three quarter million Hindus were deployed overseas in the Indian army earning 8 Victoria crosses. More than one and a quarter million Hindus played a pivotal role in 2nd World War helping to liberate our continent from Nazi evil and now today is our chance to illuminate your fantastic achievements and to say- THANK YOU’
Dr. Shashank Vikram, Consul General of India, Birmingham congratulated all for safely celebrating this Diwali and expressed his heartfelt tribute to all the Frontline workers who have worked very hard not forgetting some of them who gave up their lives whilst doing so.
We were so delighted to have First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon. Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Northern Ireland , Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill for their heartfelt messages, paying tribute to all those in Indian communities across the world for their selfless contributions during this difficult times COVID19 and congratulating HFB for the spectacular virtual event.
Lord Stephen Greenhalgh of Fulham, Minister of State for Building Safety, Fire and Communities wished British Hindu Community a safe, COVID secure Diwali celebrations to protect everyone’s lives exampling core value of Diwali – victory of Good over Evil, Light over Darkness, Knowledge over ignorance.
It was very enlightening to hear Lord Rami Ranger, Lord Jitesh Gadhia and Lord Dolar Popat applauding all volunteers and frontlines workers for their never-ending services during this crisis along with commending Temples and community organisations who have taken a lead in supporting the elderly and vulnerable.
Rt Hon. Theresa Villiers MP, Vice Chair of the APPG British Hindus, thanked Hindu Forum of Britain for organising a tremendously inspiring, thought provoking and happy virtual Diwali event. There were congratulations and felicitations from many Parliamentarians and Political leaders.
We are overjoyed by Dr Tribhuvan Jotangia’s Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK, Mr Dhirajbhai Shah, HSS UK and Mr Rajnish Kashyap, Hindu Council UK appreciating HFB for organizing lively and elegant virtual celebrations and wishing all a very healthy, happy peaceful Diwali and Nutan Varsh.
Mr Puneet Dwivedi, Vice President Scottish Chapter wished everyone Happy Diwali and invited Patrons of HFB, Mr Shashi Vekaria, Mr Rickie Sehgal and Mr C B Patel to give their blessings.
We were privileged to listen to beautiful bhajan by Jahanvi Harrison MPA, watch mesmerizing prayer dances by Artists from Abhinandana Dance Academy, Mrs Nrithya Ram Mohan and Ms Janaki Mehta.
A vote of Thanks was rendered by Mr Velji Vekaria, the Chair for this year’s Diwali Committee of HFB and President of the SKLP. The Team HFB specially thank Cllr Reena Ranger for conducting the event masterfully and the members of the Technical Team of the HSS , Mr Vishal Shah, Mr Harsh Haria and Mr Ritesh Thakar for flawless broadcasting of the event. Finally Mrs Harsha Shukla, MBE Vice President North and President of Hindu Council of North recited a beautiful mantra from Upanishad and the evening concluded with a melodious Dhun by Yog Foundation.
Diwali is the culmination of a journey – the path to enlightenment and establishing oneself in Ram Rajya, the Kingdom of Lord Ram. In a sense it is a metaphorical journey of the triumph over the vicissitudes of life; it is about a variety of relationships both human and divine and how these can be transformed through devotion and dedication; the journey is individual as well as collective bringing life and joy to both. The destination is one of being established in devotion to and enlightenment of the Supreme.
As we celebrate Diwali in all its meaning and significance, we remember that it is also about a unique form of leader –the Servant Leader. Lord Rama gives the analogy of the symbolism of the chariot where the four wheels represent the four attributes of character, courage, ethics and valor which support and take the vehicle to its true destination. The four reins of the chariot are forgiveness, compassion, consistency and equanimity which represent the mental attributes and the marks of a true and effective servant leader, able to lead society towards light and joy, controlling the four horses symbolizing strength, energy, enthusiasm and passion. This is what the Hindu Forum of Britain has always aspired for and achieved in many areas of its activities as the major umbrella body of Hindu organisations in the four nations of the United Kingdom.