Communities unite in recognition of Hindu festival
Members of the armed forces were special guests at this year’s Vijaya Dashami celebrations in Bradford, on a day when Hindus celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Hosted by the city’s branch of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the popular festival was marked this year on the 22nd October and has been an annual event for thousands of years.
Chief guests last month included Lt. Col. Paul Davies from the British Army and Flt Lt. Ed Stephens from the Royal Air Force, who were joined by over 300 attendees on the day.
Both men praised the inclusivity of the celebrations which included a number of traditional performances and motivational speeches.
“Thank you so much, it’s a privilege to be here and to witness the core values of selflessness, commitment, discipline, courage, loyalty and integrity of Hinduism,” Lt. Col. Davies said.
“I am overwhelmed by the appreciation shown to the Armed Forces on this day by the Hindu Community.
“As a simple soldier I am struck by the values of the battle between light and darkness, which we face daily in the world we live in.
“Finally I cannot leave without appreciating British Hindus and their contributions to the British Armed Forces. I thank you all on behalf of the British Armed Forces.”
Vijaya Dashami is celebrated around the world with Hindus believing that on this day, Lord Rama killed the demon King Ravana and rescued his abducted wife Sita Mata.
The celebrations in Bradford began with the traditional weapon worshipping ceremony – known as Shastra Puja, and the lighting of diya lamps.
This was followed by youths from the Hindu community displaying a short role-play, demonstrating a message of unity, truth, righteousness and duty from the Hindu Epic, the ‘Ramayana’.
The function also included motivational songs, inspirational speeches and a vegetarian meal cooked up for all.
Flt Lt. Ed Stephens added: “I was overwhelmed by the sense of community, the welcome I received and energy and effort the young Hindu community displayed while acting out and celebrating ‘victory on the tenth day’ of Lord Rama over the demon King Ravana.
“It was also a delight to meet the elders of the community as well as having the opportunity to speak with individuals who have connections with the Royal Air Force both past and present.”