The ancient Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan that celebrates the love between brothers and sisters was celebrated this year among the Armed Forces and Scotland Police to symbolise their work of protecting (raksha) the UK borders and the civil society, thereby showing gratitude and brotherhood among the organisations and civilian groups.
Organised this year by the Hindu Forum of Britain and the British Scottish Hindu Community, the month-long event started at the Glasgow Hindu Temple on the 3 August and will be followed by celebrations at the Edinburg Hindu Mandir on 18 August, the ISKCON Scotland on 25 August and the Dundee Temple on 31 August.
The first Raksha Bandhan celebrations had started in 2014, and has grown from pillar to post with this year being unique for it’s multiple-locations and a team branching out to celebrate Raksha Bandhan at various locations in south of England, including London.
At the celebrations, the Chief Guest Lord Provost of Glasgow, Ms Eva Bolander spoke about the contribution of Hindus and Indian origin people in Scotland and explained how Glasgow is open for all faith and diversity.
The event saw a turnover of over 250 people, civilians who tied the sacred thread to officers of the British Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and officers from the Scotland Yard to show their appreciation and gratitude for their service in protecting (raksha) the UK borders and ensuring a safe society.
The Raksha Bandhan event was launched in Glasgow with a welcome speech by Puneet Dwivedi, the Regional Vice President for the Hindu Forum, Britain. The Acharya (Head Priest) read out Sanskrit prayers and the chief guests were then felicitated. Special Presentations were made by Corporal Shameer Mehta of the Royal Air Force, the Secretary of the Armed Forces Hindu Network, followed by speeches by Lord Provost of Glasgow and Ms Eva Bolander.
Among those present at the event from the Armed Forces were Warrant Officer Ashok Chauhan, Sqn Leader Amir Khan, the Hindu Chaplin for Armed Forces Krishna K Attri MBE, Lieutenant Colonel John Jackson and Corporal Vivek Sangani.
Officers from Royal Air Force were Squadron Leader Amir Khan, Flight Lieutenant Tracy McGowan, Sergeant Alan Cameron, Sergeant Sandy Neill, Sergeant Simone Muir, and Corporal Shameer Mehta. Lieutenant Commander Gary Former, Petty Officer Anne-Marie McCaldon were the Royal Navy Officers.
Superintendent Suzanne Hayat and PS Constable Sara Heath, along with colleagues PS Philippa Boyd, Local Inspector Ross McCallum, Sergeant Craig Smith and Constable Ross Leggate from the Scotland Police were in attendance.
The main event was the tying of the sacred thread (rakhi) to the guests and the evening ended with a scrumptious Indian meal. The Raksha Bandhan has been documented by the Ministry of Defence as an important celebration, symbolising the brotherhood, gratitude and the interfaith goodwill shared by the civil servants, members of the armed forces and the UK Hindu civilians. We hope this event will send positive messages about the community and our undying allegiance towards the United Kingdom.
Puneet Dwivwdi is a Financial Data Consultant by profession. He is also the Regional Vice President for the Hindu Forum Britain, the largest body of British Hindus, that promote Hindu culture, spirituality and interfaith dialogue with various faiths.