By BK Choudhury
No. 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon David Cameron MP lit up with Diwali celebrations on October 20, 2011 when he invited prominent members of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities along with Parliamentarians. The Acting High Commissioner of India, HE Rajesh Prasad also graced the occasion. His residence could easily have been in Rajasthan, India as the decor gave that illusion. Candles were placed along the corridors and the stairs to give a Diwali touch. The Rajasthani decorations lit up every window and magnificent Indian dolls which were placed in strategic places made his residence look like an Indian palace. The guests were treated to a variety of canapés of Indian food and exotic drinks courtesy of Ragamama caterers. I suspect the decorations were the work of Lord and Lady Popat. I could see Lady Popat, who greeted guests with her radiant smile, was happy with the arrangements. The celebration started with an enchanting bhajans which transported the guests to some ancient Hindu temple. There was pin drop silence as the bhajan was being recited. Lord Popat escorted the Prime Minister and the Acting High Commissioner to light the candle as per tradition to commence any auspicious event.
The Prime Minister praised the contribution of Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities in enriching Britain. He acknowledged their contribution in business, sport and in the Armed Forces. He met a few sports men and women as well as defence personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan up holding world freedom. He felt happy as on that day the Libyan people who had deposed their dictator like Lord Rama did of Ravana a few thousand years back. He further said the departure of the Libyan dictator marked the beginning of a new dawn for the Libyan people. He also said Diwali represented light and knowledge which conquers darkness as well as ignorance.
HE the Acting High Commissioner of India was thrilled to see Diwali being celebrated at No. 10. Diwali is now an international festival and is being celebrated by everyone across races and religion. He was happy to see his community playing constructive roles in Britain and bringing honour to their Mother India. He reminded the Prime Minister that on Diwali people prayed to the Goddess of wealth (Lakshmi). He would like to see some of the wealth returning to Britain in these economically difficult times more than what his Indian community was already doing for Britain. In all the celebration gave the British Indians a sense of belonging to this great country where the Prime Minister not only opened his home to celebrate their most important festival but also praised them for being positive, progressive and peace loving and a credit to both Britain and India.