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British Parliament to celebrate Diwali

October 23, 2005 19:09 IST

Over 100 British lawmakers, senior ministers and diplomats are expected to attend the Diwali celebrations at the House of Commons, Lower House of Parliament, in London on Thursday.

Colourful Indian dances, melodious music, traditional food, rangoli, Sanskrit hymns and idols of Hindu deities will transform the normally sober Members' Dining Room at the Commons into a riot of colour at the celebrations to be hosted by Hindu Forum of Britain and eleven British parliamentarians.

Guests at the reception will include over 100 parliamentarians, ministers and cabinet secretaries, diplomats, business and community leaders and civil servants, the organisers said.

In a message to the Forum, Prime Minister Tony Blair said, 'This festival has an important role. It gives every one of us a chance to reflect on the important contribution that your communities are making to Britain's success. This is something for us all to celebrate.'

Diwali, the festival of lights, is the most important festival for one billion Hindus in the world and is celebrated with great pomp and festivities by 700,000 Hindus in Britain.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain said, "Diwali celebrates the victory of Lord Rama, who is an epitome of good governance, justice, compassion and righteous duty.  It is only befitting that this festival is celebrated in the seat of British democracy- the House of Commons."

"Britain after all is the mother of democracy and India is the largest. Together we hope that the Hindu ethos of reconciliation and peace can be shared with all faith communities in Britain," Kallidai added.

Recalling his involvement in the first-ever Diwali reception at the House of Commons, Keith Vaz MP said, "Four years ago, Members of Parliament together with the Hindu Forum of Britain organised the first ever Diwali celebration at Westminster. This unique event brings together parliamentarians and the communities they are elected to serve in celebrating this important festival in Parliament."

Conservative leader Michael Howard said, "Diwali is a time to reflect on the importance of family, friendship and goodwill. The reception at the House of Commons reflects the cross-party support, which the Hindu Forum of Britain has attracted. It does credit to all those involved."

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy noted that the Diwali reception had become one of the cultural highlights in the parliamentary calendar. "It's inclusive, inviting and open to all to celebrate."

Highlights of the reception include performance by artistes from Bhaktivedanta Manor ISKCON temple, a colourful food display to celebrate the traditional annakut food offering made the day after Diwaliand Bharatnatyam performance by classical artistes Chamu and Anna Kuppuswamy.

Parliamentarians co-hosting the event with the Forum include Lord Navnit Dholakia, Nigel Evans MP, Baroness Shriela Flather, Dominic Grieve MP, Lady Harmon, Piara Khabra, MP, Ashok Kumar MP, Adam Price MP, Angus Robertson MP, Shailesh Vara MP and Keith Vaz MP.

H S Rao in London
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