GALLERY: Swindon Hindu Temple honours armed services and emergency personnel as part of Rakshabandhan Festival

By Jamie Hill - 14 August 2019

Community

Swindon Hindu Temple & Cultural Centre celebrated Rakshabandhan (Bond of Protection) festival on Friday 9th August 2019 with the British Armed Forces and Emergency Services.

Organised by the Defence Hindu Network, many Hindu and non-Hindu officers from the Armed Forces travelled across the UK this week to celebrate Rakshabandhan with local communities starting their tour from Glasgow, Manchester, Bradford, Leicester, Milton Keynes and Swindon.

Raksha Bandhan is one of the major Hindu festivals, that celebrates the duty of care, the obligation to serve those in need, and the relationships we hold dear to one another irrespective of the differences. The festival is celebrated amongst sisters and their brothers by the tying of a sacred thread (Rakhi) to their wrists, as a symbol of the vow of protection.

"In broadening the concept, Swindon Hindu Temple & Cultural centre organised this as a celebration of these values we know to be exemplified by our Armed Forces and Emergency Services personnel, who step out every day, to serve and protect the lives of citizens. The work of these people stands out as beacons of hope for us all, for the good in our societies, and as role models for generations to follow.” said Pradeep Bhardwaj, Chairman of Swindon Hindu Temple & Cultural Centre."

Rakhi (the bond of protection) tied around the wrists of serving personnel represents not just the promise to protect & serve the community but also the gratitude from the community to appreciate the exemplary selfless work done by the Armed Forces and Emergency Services.

Many uniformed officers from the British Army, Navy, and RAF, Police, Fire & Safety, Ambulance services, Wiltshire Air Ambulance, along with local dignitaries – Mrs Nicky Albery DL representing Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Deputy Mayor of Swindon Cllr Garry Perkins, Police & Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson, Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, CEO of Prospect Hospice Mrs Irene Watkins, Area Manager of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Glyn Mody and Operations Manager of Ambulance Services Helen, Mandie Ball Positive Action Officer of Wiltshire Police took part in this very special and unique festival at Swindon Hindu Temple & Cultural Centre.

The program started with traditional lighting of lamps. Chairman Mr. Pradeep Bhardwaj welcomed the guests and briefed about the journey of Swindon Hindu Temple & Cultural Centre and its wide-ranging contribution to the larger society and the positive impact in the lives of over 10,000 people in the region.

Hindu Chaplain Acharya Krishanji Attri MBE delivered a speech highlighting the significance of Rakshabandhan Utsav from perspective of the community as well as more prominently from Armed forces perspective. Rear Admiral Tim Hodgson who is also Champion of Defence Hindu Network (DHN) spoke about the significance of diversity in Armed forces and contribution of DHN. He said, he was hugely honoured to celebrate the bond between the community and the Armed forces. Lieutenant Colonel Ashok Rao, the Chair of Defence Hindu Network shared the journey of DHN, the significance of such community engagement programs, also highlighting 1.6% Hindus in British Armed Forces in line with 1.5% Hindu population in the UK.

The festivals also applauded the contribution of Hindus throughout the history of the UK Armed Forces: 750,000 Hindus in the British Indian Army (earning 8 Victoria Crosses) in World War I; 1.25 million Hindus in the British Indian Army (earning 18 Victoria Crosses) in World War II; and 950 Hindus currently serving in British Army.

“There’s a common thread that runs through the stories highlighting Hindu principles and values, which is the triumph of good over evil and the requirement that every one of us ensures that good prevails. The link between that and what the UK Armed Forces do is abundantly clear, and that’s why it’s important we have events like this – to have effective engagement between the Hindu community and the Armed Forces. It’s about recognising the shared values.” Said Ashish Channawar.

Ashish Channawar also thanked all the trustees of Swindon Hindu Temple Trust Pradeep Bhardwaj, Cllr Suresh Gattapur, Ram Thiagarajah, Neetu Bhardwaj, Vinay Kumar, Dr Nirupama Satish.

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