AT the invitation of Seema Malhotra, Member of the Parliament for Feltham and Heston, Metropolitan Police Hindu Association (MPHA) and Hindu Academy, Lords, MPs, Senior Police Officers and staff from Metropolitan Police Service and prominent Hindu community/group representatives came together on 24 January 24 to celebrate Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary in the Jubilee Room and the International Parliamentary Union Room at the Houses of Parliament.
Keith Vaz, who formally opened and introduced the event on behalf of Seema Malhotra, welcomed all dignitaries and guests whilst making a special mention of Lord Kamlesh Patel and Craig Mackey Deputy Commissioner of Metropolitan Police Service. He went on to read out a letter from Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party, saying “…This important celebration marks the birth of a man who gave so much to so many and to this very day is respected across the world by people of all faiths. Swami Vivekananda’s address to the Parliament of Religions, in Chicago in 1893 – the world’s first inter-faith gathering-…inspired people from all religions, backgrounds and countries from scientists to leaders of nations……there is much we can learn from his life and teachings. His values of social responsibility and community cohesion will continue to inspire generations to come”.
MPS Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey thanked MPHA and Hindu Academy for inviting him to join the special event. While stating that he had read about Swami Vivekananda and was impressed that his messages continue to be valuable 150 years later, he went on to stress the importance of shared responsibility from all communities for keeping London safe.
Jay Lakhani, Director of Hindu Academy and first Hindu tutor at Eton College, the keynote speaker who has delivered classes in Hinduism for thousands of youth nationally, spoke about touring universities nationally with Swami Vivekananda presentations and found that the scientific basis of these teachings struck a chord with the youth and propagated interest in exploring Hinduism and pluralism further. He emphasised the importance of living unselfishly and serving others as a principle pathway for spiritual progression as opposed to solely focussing on rituals. He stressed that as Hinduism embraces all religions, there is no need for supremacy or conversion. Divinifying and dignifying humanity combined with welcome for pluralism is the key for global community cohesion.
Commander Neil Basu of the MPS, an active partner and supporter of MPHA initiatives, who is of Bengali origin, was invited to deliver the 1893 Chicago address given by Swami Vivekanand and delivered Swamiji’s speech in a majestic manner.