The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) celebrated the 22nd multicultural and multifaith Diwali at the House of Commons on 9 November 2023. It was a unique reception that gracefully upheld and made visible the Hindu community’s traditions and contributions to the UK.
Lord Dholakia encouraged the gathered community to be more proactive in their engagement with key issues, to ensure that the Hindu voice represented at all levels of the political engagement.
Padma Shri Bob Blackman MP CBE and Chair of the APPG for British Hindus addressed the audience with a lively speech stressing the contribution of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains of Indian origin to the British economy.
Lord Gadhia praised the Hindu community for their hard work and peaceful coexistence with all communities in the UK.
The High Commissioner of Uganda HE Nimisha Madhvani wished all a very happy Diwali and invited the community to visit Uganda.
Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP commended the work of the HFB and pledged her unwavering support to combat ‘Anti-Hindu propaganda’.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Westminster, Honorary Alderwoman Angela Harvey; Mayor of Harrow, Cllr Ramji Chauhan; and Mayor of Brent, Cllr. Orleen Hylton; Mayor of Ealing, Cllr Hitesh Taylor shared a brief Diwali message.
President of HFB and Trustee of the HFB Charity, Truptiben Patel stated the importance and significance of Diwali. Hanuman Dass, Founder of the GoDharmic charity shared the best Diwali wishes received for the HFB Diwali in Parliament event, from the Deputy PM Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE and from Dame Eleanor Fulton Laing DBE, the Deputy Speaker.
Brigadier John Kendal, Ashok Kumar Chauhan MBE and all present from the British Army, Navy and Airforce were invited to the stage. The Armed Forces were honoured by Pramila Sehgal of Transputec and Chandani Vora of Vascroft Foundation.
In the beginning, a minute’s silence was observed for the Remembrance Week. ‘The Asato Ma Sadgamaya’ shloka was recited by Vijay ji from team GD and diyas collectively lit by Vishakha Devi Dasi of ISKCON, Ramani Devi of Shiva Trust, Sister Dipti Khatri and Sister Jayminiben Patel of Brahma Kumaris, Swamini Suryaprabha Didi, Devyani Patel of Radha Krishna Mandir Blaham, Anita Goyal from HG Foundation, Ranu M Radia of School of Harrow, Harriet Crabtree - Director of the Interfaith Network UK, Janak Amin and Varsha Mistry from MPHA.
Guests joined the reception by listening to a beautiful flute rendition by Praveen Pratap. Artists of Sajan Nartan Academy, choreographed by Neha Patel presented traditional devotional classical dance. The event was brought to a close by Shivali Bhammer, a pioneering Bhajan vocalist. The stunning choreography in Bharatanatyam by Priyadarshini was much appreciated.
Representatives from member organisations and businesses contributing to HFB’s objectives across the UK were honoured. These included Vijay Ramanaidoo of the Mohanji Foundation, Jay Jayshleen of Act Foundation, Hemant Panda of Ahimsa Café, Christopher Greenwood SMP, Nilesh and Heena Solanki, Kajal Nayee of Lubbock Fine LLP, Rajesh Vekaria of Finsol Tax Consultants, Chandani Vora, Umesh Amin of Revelstoke Pharmacy, Vinod Halai of Euroken, Jayesh Hirani of Everglade, Asvin Halai from West Harrow Garage, Jayesh Patel of Abbeycare.
Leaders of various Mandir and Samaj were mentioned for their continued engagement, support and spiritual involvement. Vinubhai Bhattessa and Dr Mayank Shah of BAPS, Prakash Gandecha of Jalaram Mandir, Sri Rajnish Kashyap, General Secretary of HCUK, Arun Thakar - President of NCHT, Sri Govind Bhai Patel SSGP, Dr Malav Bhimpuria of Cambridge Sanatan Village, Vinod Nakarja of Anoopam Mission, Vishal Shah of HSS, Bhavya Shah of NHSF, Sonal Sher from KPCS, Manu Khajuria of Dogra Society UK, Ameerjit Bhamra of APPG Indian Sciences and Kapil Dudakia, the first HFB PRO.
The magazine was designed and printed by Bimalbhai Patel. Pravinbhai Amin, HFB Vice President of Community Liaison welcomed guests. The vote of thanks was conveyed by HFB Diwali Committee Chair Veljibhai.