Chanda Vyas is the first ‘Hindu Female Priest’ in the U.K. She is married to Manoj and they have three children and grandchildren.
During her time at Leicester City Council, Chanda worked on Health and Social Care as well as other roles in different departments. Chanda has worked with people with mental health issues, elderly people, people with challenging behaviour and with profound learning disabilities. She enjoyed her time at the Council, stating that although it was challenging, it was a very rewarding career.
Through her current role as a priest, Chanda wants to continue to support people during situations in which they may need her assistance. Chanda also wants to be a role model to other women, encouraging them to follow her example and become priests, urging them to ignore any negativity that may discourage them. Chanda believes that this message is extremely beneficial to an evolving generation who need open minds, flexibility and adaptability for them to hold onto tradition, culture and religion.
1) What is your current position?
I’ve established myself as the UKs first female Hindu priest and conduct all ceremonies and rituals, including wedding and funerals, within the Hindu and wider community.
2) What are your proudest achievements?
Becoming a priest has come with its own challenges and obstacles, as women are not widely accepted as being able to fulfil the role of a priest. I’ve been blessed to have been encouraged and supported by my family and fantastic friends so that I could fulfil my childhood dream and become a practicing priest all over the world. More dear to my heart was being able to conduct the wedding ceremonies of two of my daughters, which came with its emotional challenges, but was more rewarding and satisfying as I was able to marry both couples with the utmost spiritual awareness, love and religious devotion.
3) What inspires you?
What inspires me is being there for people in their time of need whether they are happy occasions like conducting house blessings that aim to help people to bring calm and prosperity in their home by conducting religious rituals; helping couples toestablish what is most important to them on their wedding day; or a sadder occasion such as conducting the funeral of a lost member of their family. I love helping and supporting people, this is my blessing. Receiving a heartfelt thank you, this is my motivation.
4) What has been the biggest obstacle in your career?
I have been very fortunate with gods blessings and can’t say that I have had any obstacles that would hinder my community service. Receiving and giving love and support amongst the people that come into my life has been very organic, allowing me to be instrumental in playing my role. If there was a challenge, it’s not being able to offer my services to everyone as, unfortunately, it’s just not possible to be in two places at the same time.
5) Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
The most influential person on my career to date has been my husband, the father of my three beautiful girls, and my best friend. He is my hero and has always supported me with my decisions, helping me to become the person I am today. It’s because of him I had the confidence to follow my dreams and take this journey to becoming a priest. Having such pure unconditional love, support and consistency enables an individual to move mountains, as he has done for me.
6) What is the best aspect about your current role?
Just being there for people from all walks of life who face different challenges and need clarity, support and guidance. I love what I do and am happy to always go the extra mile for anyone that needs my time and confidence. There is nothing more rewarding than helping to clear the clouds and create certainty.
7) And the worst?
There are none, I get only pleasure from what I give to the communities.
8) What are your long term goals?
I want to continue to support, guide and enable people from all walks of life and situations as and when they need me. I also wish to continue to encourage women to follow my example and become a priest, to ignore negativity and criticism that may discourage them from pursuing this goal. I believe that if the younger generation want to hold on to and embrace tradition, culture and religion, they require open minds, flexibility and adaptability. Encouraging women to become priests will facilitate this.
9) If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?
All education should be free.
10) If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why?
I would be the beautiful late Princess Diana. She was a very compassionate woman, always so willing to help people in need whilst maintaining her stature and presence as a royal. We must all learn to give to others without the desire to receive rewards, as spiritual reward is far greater than any other. Om Shanti.