British Asia News Network
London: The Security gates at the Parliament dazzled on Wednesday as Indian guests and dignitaries dressed up in their traditional attires queued up for security checks to attend the Hindu Forum of Britain’s Diwali Reception at the Terrace Pavilion at the Palace of Westminster on 31st October. The grand event was co-hosted by Bob Blackman MP, Lord Navnit Dholakia OBE, Virendra Sharma MP, Ian Blackford MP and Nigel Dodds MP.
Inspiring speeches by the hosts followed a traditional welcome with the ‘tilak and prasad’. The President of the Hindu Forum, Truptiben Patel welcomed the guests and introduced the voluntary organisation, discussing how the year was challenging for the Hindu community with Theresa May deciding not to enact the law on caste discrimination among Indian communities in the UK and rely on emerging case-law in courts, instead.
The HFB that was in close consultations and debates on the issue said it was a challenging year for them. "It was hard work to get people within our community to respond to something that was very important," she said.
"This year was very challenging for the Hindu community with the whole legislation on Caste legislation from Lord Navnit Dholakia, Lord Popat, Lord Jitesh Gadhia and Bob Blackman without whose support we could not have engaged the government to carry on the consultations."
Earlier this year, the Tories government had decided not to legislate laws on caste discrimination as this would lead to further divisions within the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in the UK.
Lord Navnit Dholakia, the host formally welcomed the guests to the Diwali saying he was delighted that the event was being held in Parliament.
"Diwali for me signifies so much good within our community. What you have done is to hold and preserve those values over generations. We stand together, walk together and make sure that this country not only remains Britain, but Great Britain with the contributions that Indians can make towards that."
He urged the younger generation to be more involved in the politics of the country. “Participation is coming in more in the House of Lords, than in the House of Commons but I would like to see many of our younger people contributing politically at every level,” said Lord Dholakia.
As a part of the APPG of the Hindus, he said: "Equality must be the end process of almost everything that we do. On no account, any member of our community however high or low caste they may be, must be discriminated. There is much right of equality, freedom and liberty.”
Bob Blackman was instrumental in the contributions he made saying that we don't need a legislation that divides the community rather than uniting them. He wished everyone a “happy, peaceful, prosperous and a healthy” Diwali saying that he will be visiting 11 temples on Diwali. “I will be celebrating aarti more than any one of you. And I’ll have lots of Diwali sweets,” he laughed.
He praised the Indian community as being one of the most “law-abiding, economically active and family-oriented community there is and you don’t speak up enough. So I’m delighted to have been re-elected by the APPG of British Hindus to speak up on your behalf.”
Theresa Villiars MP said: “we are approaching the centenary of World War 1 and that is an opportunity to reflect on the service and sacrifice of over a million men from undivided Indian subcontinent who volunteered to serve in World War 1, many of who made the ultimate sacrifice. The heroic roles have not been properly recognised and it’s time that it was.”
Ian Blackford MP thanked Indians for the contribution that make to life in United Kingdom. “In Scotland we are very much enriched by the Indian community… one of the things that’s fantastic to see is that we’ve benefitted from the traditions that you’ve brought to the island at the same time, Indians living in Scotland are fluent Gaelic speakers. It’s fantastic to see that fusion take place,” he said.
Cultural dance programmes. light refreshments and a lot of chatter with friends made this a truly memorable evening.