Scotland (BAN/PD) Hindus of Scotland came together to celebrate Raksha Bandhan, a festival celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters. This is one of the ways Hindus honoured and showed gratitude to British Armed forces, Police Scotland, NHS Staff and other emergency workers.
Hindu Forum Britain’s Edinburgh based Vice President for Scotland Mr Puneet Dwivedi has been collaborating with local Hindu temples and organising Raksha Bandhan at different locations in Scotland. This year celebration took place in 3 different cities with opening ceremony at Dundee Hindu Temple on Sun 8th of Aug, followed by The Hindu temple of Scotland, Rutherglen in Glasgow and finally at the capital’s only Hindu temple, Edinburgh Hindu Temple in Leith Edinburgh.
The word ‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means to tie. Normally sisters tie a ‘rakhi’ on the wrist of their brothers as a bond of protection. During Raksha Bandhan, Hindus use decorative bracelets ‘Rakhi; to symbolise bonds of mutual protection. However, the festival is not limited to just brother and sister, it includes others who vow for protection (such as the Armed Forces, Police, Fire & Rescue Services or Ambulance and Medical Services) who provide protection on a routine basis.
The festival is particularly important for Hindus serving in the UK military, because it celebrates their duty to protect society. Hindus have time and again contributed to the defence of the UK. During the First World War, 1,750,000 Hindus were deployed overseas. In the Second World War, over 1.25 million Hindus played a pivotal role in the allied victory.” Raksha Bandhan festivals have enabled to forge a closer relationship of the Hindu Community with other public services encouraging Hindu youngsters to enter a career in the Parliament, Council, Police or Military either on a full-time or part-time basis.
Mr Puneet Dwivedi who is a full Time IT Consultant, offers his voluntary time in organising such events had mentioned in his opening speech “Hindus contribute immensely to British and Scottish society in economic development, Science and academic however, we Hindus lack to make our presence in other public fields like Army, Police, Politics and council job. Until the last election there were zero MP or MSP from the Hindu community. Dr Sandesh Gulhane, who was present at the ceremony became the first Hindu MSP in Scottish Parliament. He wants to encourage Scottish Hindus to take up more jobs as MP, MSP, Police, the Army and integrate well with Scottish Society. He mentioned his special thanks to Flt Lt Tracy McGowan who has kindly helped him over the last four years to organise Raksha Bandhan as part of ongoing tri-service engagement partnerships
Indian Consul General Mr Bijay Selvaraj said – “If you had food to eat, thanks to the farmer, if you are set well and safe thanks to the Policeman on the street and the Army that guard the border. Having friends in the armed forces and police back home in India, I know how difficult the job is, and through Raksha Bandhan we want to convey a ‘Thank you to you all’.”
The first MSP from Hindu Community Dr Sandesh Gulhane said –
“For Me Raksha Bandhan really talks about Unity, unity of brother & sister, unity of communities -we are stronger if we are together, being a doctor I have and we have shown this unity during this pandemic. As the first Indian Hindu MSP we want the community to work together as one voice.”
The representative of armed forces and police thanked the Edinburgh Hindu temple volunteers and Hindu Forum for inviting and honouring them. During these unprecedented times, the value of community spirit has proved to be necessary more than ever.
This past 16 months has put a different perspective and places of worship have to adapt to the ever changing government guidelines. All the 3 temples were very happy to reopen their doors for a public function after a long time. These celebrations are fitting tribute to all the protectors of the society, especially NHS workers who played a pivotal role during this pandemic along with members of the police, the Royal Air Force, the Army, the Royal Navy and other emergency services.
Volunteers of the Edinburgh Hindu temple tying the Rakhi thread to Armed forces, Police and fire service officers
Written by Puneet Dwivedi, Edited by Sushma Lobo, photo credit Student from Royal High School – Himadri Kashish Bhatia