Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer visits BAPS Swaminarayan Temple for Diwali

Monday 20th November 2023 11:35 EST

The Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party, visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Monday 13 November 2023 to celebrate the festival of Diwali.

The visit underscored Sir Keir’s commitment to engaging with diverse communities and celebrating cultural events that enrich the fabric of British society and he was welcomed with traditional marks of goodwill by senior swamis and trustees of the Temple.

During his time at the Temple, Sir Keir immersed himself in the Diwali festivities, joining in ceremonial prayers and experiencing the warmth of the community spirit. He also engaged with young and senior volunteers of the Temple and learned of its various contributions to the community.

After arriving in the assembly hall, Mr Starmer addressed the congregation. He said: “I stand in awe of the celebrations here and the selfless seva of thousands of volunteers – working with such care and commitment to make this iconic occasion a reality. Their extraordinary efforts do not go unnoticed. A temple of this scale and perfection and the spirit of limitless sacrifice and dedication that animates it does not come about by chance. Neasden Temple is a beacon of compassion and harmony for everyone – regardless of creed or background [and] an integral part of the religious and cultural landscape of Great Britain. To British Indians, I want to express my admiration and respect for everything you do for our country. Quite simply, the UK would be diminished in so many ways without you.”

Dr Mayank Shah, a trustee and volunteer at the Temple, added, “We were honoured to have Sir Keir Starmer with us at Neasden Temple today during such an auspicious time of the year. We appreciate the time he took out to join the local community of British Hindus in celebrating and reinforcing key Hindu values such as family respect, civic duty, and public service – values which are also quintessentially British values.” 

Sir Keir departed the assembly after receiving a special gift representing fulfilment and auspiciousness.

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