The Chancellor said: “It is to you, the British Hindu community that we owe a debt of gratitude for your contribution to the country and the values you champion. For us here at Westminster, Diwali is one of the great days, one of the great events in our calendar. I am delighted to see so many of my Parliamentary colleagues here today from both Houses who have worked closely with the Hindu Forum of Britain to make this event such a success.”
Over 100 MPs, ministers, cabinet secretaries, diplomats, businessmen, community leaders and civil servants in Britain attended the fifth Diwali reception at the House of Commons, which was transformed into a mini-India with lamps, rangoli patterns, sacred food displays, exhibits, Indian sweets, gifts and incense.
Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the National Ethnic Minority Task Force who was the main Parliamentary host for the event said, “These celebrations provide us an opportunity to celebrate the most important festival in the Indian calendar in the mother of all Parliaments. Britain is a nation of many faiths and cultures and our diversity is the envy of the world.” He continued: “This year marks the fifth anniversary of the annual Diwali at Westminster reception, the multi-party reception is an expression of the British Hindu community’s success in cohesively integrating into British society.”
The Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, David Cameron MP, who recently returned from a trip to India, also addressed the reception and talked about the common bonds that exist between Britain and India and the burgeoning special relationship between the two countries. He added: “Diwali is a wonderful festival, celebrated both in this country and around the world. It is an opportunity to reflect on the immensely valuable contribution that the Hindu community has made to national life in this country.”
Sir Menzies Campbell, MP, Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party who was present to deliver his Diwali greetings commented: “The Diwali reception in the House of Commons has become a highlight of the parliamentary year. The inclusive nature of the festival is demonstrated in bringing together of Parliamentarians of all parties and the communities they represent in celebration of the festival of lights.”
Other guests at the reception included Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for Transport, Baroness Amos, Leader of the House of Lords, Jack Straw, Leader of the House of Commons, Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health and Dominic Grieve, Shadow Attorney General.
This unique event which brings together Parliamentarians and the communities they are elected to serve in celebrating this important festival in Parliament was
sponsored by Barclays and Mishcon De Reya solicitors.