Prime Minister David Cameron celebrated the Hindu festival of Diwali at 10 Downing Street, his official residence and office, on Tuesday 10 November 2015.
Trustees of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir were amongst the various British Hindus who had been invited to celebrate the event. In particular, volunteers from the Mandir had been requested to prepare a traditional arrangement of Indian food known as the ‘annakut’ that is offered to the deities as thanksgiving on this day.
The event, organised by the Prime Minister’s Office, began with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp amid Vedic chanting. Along with British Hindus from various denominations, also gathered in the Pillared Room of the famous Prime Ministerial home were Indian High Commissioner to the UK His Excellency Mr Ranjan Mathai, Keith Vaz MP, Priti Patel MP, and several other eminent Britons of Indian origin.
This year, the Mandir celebrated its 20th anniversary since its inauguration in August 1995 by Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Drawing upon the values of goodwill that are shared during Diwali and the Hindu New Year, Mr Cameron remembered the “people at Neasden Mandir” in his Diwali message and paid tribute to the “devotion and dedication they derive from their faith by helping others.” These Hindu values of "generosity, responsibility, enterprise, family" are "the very best of British values," he said, before going on to thank all British Hindus “for their incredible contribution to Britain. We are better and stronger for it.”
Mr Cameron expressed his warm wishes for a happy and prosperous Diwali to all, and thanked the representatives from the Mandir for their efforts in setting up the annakut and festive decorations.
Both the Prime Minister and his wife Samantha Cameron requested the display to remain at their residence for forthcoming functions and conferences, including the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later that week.
On this special occasion, Pramukh Swami Maharaj had sent a message of goodwill to the Prime Minister. Swamishri said he was praying for the peace, safety and well-being of all people in the UK and around the world, and for the light of God to guide us through these challenging times.
A video and the full transcript of the Prime Minister’s Diwali message can be found on the official ‘Number 10’ website here.
For a report with photos and video of the Prime Minister’s visit to the Mandir with his wife during the Hindu New Year celebrations in 2013, please click here.
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