England's House of Commons Celebrates Ramnavami
LONDON, ENGLAND, March 15, 2005: Hundreds of leading politicians were coming together today in central London as the House of Commons celebrates the Indian festival of Ramnavami for the first time. At an event backed by the Hindu Council UK several members of the cabinet, shadow cabinet and the Liberal Democrats party were joining a host of dignitaries for the ceremony which celebrates the appearance of Lord Rama. The event was being celebrated for the first time ever at the Houses of Parliament thanks to the efforts of the Minister for Transport, Tony McNulty MP, and Parliamentary Advisor on Community Issues and Hindu Council UK advisor, Mr. Abhay Lakhani. Mr. McNulty, Labour MP for Harrow East, first called for the festival to be recognized at an event to celebrate Krishna's birth last year and has been backed throughout by Mr. Lakhani. The minister said: "I announced last year at the House of Commons that Lord Rama's birth should be celebrated in Parliament. This celebration has been in planning for a considerable period and, with the help of Abhay Lakhani, I am pleased that this festival will be celebrated in the Commons. This is a wonderful opportunity for the British Hindus to have the festival of Ramanavami celebrated at the House of Commons where people of all faiths and communities will participate. It shows the Hindu community's resolve to integrate with the rest of the society." Mr. Lakhani said:
"We are pleased to be celebrating Ramanavami, marking the birth of Sri Rama, at the Palace of Westminster. "The actual date of Sri Rama's birth falls in April but we have brought forward the celebration to accommodate the parliamentarians who may be otherwise engaged [with elections] in April.
"Sri Rama's birth celebration at the House of Commons is very apt, as like this majestic democratic institution he, too, promoted the philosophy of 'living for the good of all and for the benefit of all.' When Hindus celebrate the life of Sri Rama they celebrate the role of an ideal person - someone who lives for principles rather than properties and possessions." Ramanavami is observed by over one billion Hindus in the world and is rooted in the oldest spiritual tradition. It attracts people of all spiritual cultures and is one of the most popular celebrations in Hinduism. All the Hindu temples in the UK will celebrate this festival with drama, dance, music, multi-media shows and exhibitions accompanied with free vegetarian meal. The preparations usually start many weeks before the actual day and it will involve scores of volunteers.