Diwali with the Lords

  • Mon,5 Nov 2018 10:00:30 AM

British Asia News Network

Smita Sarkar

London: Lord Raj Loomba CBE, Chairman and Founding Trustee of the Loomba Foundation is well known among his peers for his campaign on the issue of widowhood in developing countries. But few know that he has been instrumental in introducing Indian culture and festivals in the UK, namely the festival of lights, Diwali.

It would be true to say that the Loomba Foundation played an enormously huge role in promoting the festival of Diwali in London. These Diwali parties brought together important policy-makers and business communities from all communities to network and celebrate. Funds raised from these parties were always used for noble causes in India and UK.

“In 1999, we held the very first “Diwali Banquet of the century” in London. It was attended by the Princess Royal, daughter of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth 2. I still remember that we had to explain to most of the British guests that what Diwali is,” reminiscences Lord Loomba.

He raised £70,000 at the event and used the proceeds to educate children in Orrisa, who had lost their father or both parents in the devastating cyclone in the state that year.

From 2000, the Loomba Foundation celebrated Diwali in partnership with London First, a leading organisation promoting business between India and the UK. The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, became a Patron of the Loomba Foundation and attended the Diwali dinner every year as Chief Guest.

This year, the Diwali party was organised in the House of Lords at the Cholmondeley House with a champagne reception followed by lunch. Cherie Blair CBE QC was the Chief Guest. The event was accompanied by Shripriya Dalmia Thirani and attended by nearly 130 distinguished guests. People came out of the celebrations feeling rejuvinated.

Lord Loomba, leads an extremely busy life managing multiple roles with Charities and APPGs as a non-affiliated peer who wishes to concentrate on human rights, gender equality, education and reaching the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

As the Vice President of the children’s charity Barnardos, he participated in a debate on 1stNovember, 2018. “The Baroness Massey of Darwen to move that this House takes note of initiatives in early intervention in children’s lives that would improve the welfare, life chances and social mobility of young people in the UK,” confirmed Lord Loomba.

Loomba is the Chairman and Founding Trustee of Loomba Foundation, a charity set up in memory of his mother to help impoverished widows across the globe. He relentlessly campaigned at the United Nations to establish a day to formally recognise the plight of widows across the world.

In 2010, after relentless campaign by him, the UN General Assembly formally recognised by unanimous acclaim 23rd June as International Widows Day. This was the day when at the young age of 37, Lord Loomba’s mother Pushpawati Loomba had become a widow. There has been no looking back for the Foundation. Two decades later, the charity continues to work closely with India - said to have the largest number of widows in the world.

The Loomba Foundation is presently working together with the Rotary India Literacy Mission on Project Dignity, a Pioneer Pan India Project in the Field of Skill Development Empowering 30,000 Widows in India.

This would include 5000 widows, un-married daughters of widows and single mothers in the states of Delhi, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal - in the fields of Beauty & Wellness, Tailoring and IT.

The story does not end here. Lord Loomba is the Vice President of APPG UNA-UK and SDG-UK. “I am quite happy to work with both organisations as they provide me a huge opportunity to compliment my work with the Loomba Foundation to raise awareness of the plight of widows and their children who are suffering from poverty, illiteracy, diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Malaria, conflict and social injustices,” said Lord Loomba – whose boundless energy even in his seventies, is both inspirational and enviable, truly defining his spirit to keep working towards the betterment of the society.

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