A historic and extremely well-attended event was organised by Hindu Forum of Europe and Golden Tours Foundation to celebrate Diwali in the European Parliament on November 9, 2016.
Hosted by MEPs Geoffery Van Orden, and co-hosted by Neena Gill, Jo Leinen, Cora Van Neiuwenhuizen, Igor Soltes, this historic Hindu festival celebration saw the participation of other MEPs, including Syed Kamall, Charles Tannock and was graced by Guest of Honour, Hon’ble Ambassador of India, His Excellency Manjeev Puri, Ambassadors of Mauritius, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The Vice President of European Parliament Antonio Tajani, and Vincent Depaigne, Policy Officer on religions, philosophical and non-confessional organisations from European commission graced the occasion.
The community leaders represented by temples and 35 organisations from the UK and Europe, including the Swaminarayan temple, ISCKON, Brahmakumaris, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, National Council of Hindu Temples, Hindu Forum of Britain and many leading NGOs from Europe, were in attendance.
A traditional lighting of the lamp kicked off the programme followed by prayers recited by Krishna Kirpa Das, Hindu Federation of Spain, and concluded in the classical Indian Bharatanatyam dance presentation by local artistes Usha Balachandran and Srinidhi Baradwaj.
The local support was provided by Mahaprabhu Martin Guruwich, the General secretary of HFE, Editor-in Chief of the Magazine that was published for the Diwali programme.
Congratulating the organisers, the High Commissioner of India said, “It is heartening to see a full house and overwhelming response to this programme. It demonstrates the love for India and Indian diaspora globally. There is a great friendship between the European Union and India which needs to be strengthened further.”
The programme while celebrating the festival of lights paid tribute to the Indian Soldiers who fought during the World War I and World War II.
Chairman of Golden Tours Foundation, Nitin Palan while highlighting the role of Indian Soldiers and of the Indian diaspora as a whole said, “Diwali is a special festival which brings communities and faiths together, worldwide. In the UK Diwali on Trafalgar Square is the biggest celebration of this cohesiveness and harmony and I hope that in the coming years Diwali also is celebrated more widely in all European countries by millions of people.”
In addition to the Diwali celebration, the visiting delegates from the UK and other countries of Europe held a series of meetings to discuss the relevance of Hinduism in Europe and its lack of official recognition. Diwali celebrations in various parts of Europe was proposed to be an appropriate way to connect with different organisations in Europe to espouse the Hindu identity.
Vincent Depaigne Policy Officer of Dialogue with Churches, Religions and Philosophical and Non-confessional Organisations announced the upcoming High-level Religious Leaders meeting on November 29, 2016, for a dialogue on European Values and how it could be meaningfully put into action, at the Head Quarters of European Commission. Dr Lakshmi Vyas, Hindu Forum of Europe, has been invited to attend the meeting and speak on UK’s policy on integration after Brexit.
Text is written for Asian Voice