Tag Archive: British Army

Having ‘faith’ in the Forces: British Army hold interfaith study day

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INTERACTIVE: Discussions about Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh faiths, Afro-Caribbean culture and the historical contribution of ethnic minorities to the armed forces were all carried out

INTERACTIVE: Discussions about Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh faiths, Afro-Caribbean culture and the historical contribution of ethnic minorities to the armed forces were all carried out

More than 60 soldiers from across Yorkshire and the North East attended an interfaith study day at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate last week, as the importance of religion in the Forces was discussed.

The inclusive event featured talks by faith leaders and soldiers who answered questions on how they practice their faith while serving their country at home and overseas.

There were discussions on Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh faiths, Afro-Caribbean culture and the historical contribution of ethnic minorities to the armed forces.

Event organiser, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hunter, is a community engagement officer with 4th Infantry Brigade, based in Catterick.

He said that the day had also allowed for welfare and recruitment teams from across the British Army to gain a better understanding of how they can engage with different religious communities.

He added: “We are increasing understanding of different faiths across the Army because we would like an Army which is more reflective of society.

“This event is about putting people of different faiths next to one another so they can learn more about each other - at the end of the day all faiths have got a lot in common.”

LISTENING: Groups learned about the different religions and cultures of soldiers

LISTENING: Groups learned about the different religions and cultures of soldiers

Dozen different units were represented at the event from across Yorkshire and the North East.

Speakers included Armed Forces Chaplains and serving soldiers from around the country including Craftsman Ranvir Singh, who works with The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment.

Craftsman Singh, from Huddersfield, said: “It’s been really great to have the opportunity to come in and increase the understanding of Sikhism across the brigade.

“I want to show that the British Army is massively compatible with our faith – I’m a father and I am adamant that my son is going to join the armed forces.”

Attendees had the chance to “ask difficult questions in a safe environment,” during the event in the Chaplaincy at the Army Foundation College.  

Bombardier Adil Arif, of 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, based in Newcastle, shared his experience of practicing Islam.

“I’ve done Islamic studies so I’ve got a good knowledge of my faith and I’m comfortable answering questions,” Bdr Arif said.

“A small minority give Muslims a bad name, but the religion itself is similar to Christianity, it’s about showing that we are not that different.”

UNITED: Speakers from across the British Army joined ‘forces’ last weekend to discuss the importance of understanding the role faith

UNITED: Speakers from across the British Army joined ‘forces’ last weekend to discuss the importance of understanding the role faith

The event was the first interfaith day the 4th Infantry Brigade have held and, following its success, they now hope to make it a more regular occurrence.

Shahda Khan MBE, Community Cohesion Lead at Middlesbrough Council said: “I’m really pleased to see so many different faiths represented here today.

“It’s been really fascinating listening to the presentations and all the questions that have been asked.”

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Celebrating good over evil

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CELEBRATIONS: Over 300 people turned out for the Vijaya Dashami celebrations in Bradford

CELEBRATIONS: Over 300 people turned out for the Vijaya Dashami celebrations in Bradford

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.”  

ATTENDANCE: Lt. Col. Paul Davies from the British Army and Flt Lt. Ed Stephens from the Royal Air Force were the special guests on the day

ATTENDANCE: Lt. Col. Paul Davies from the British Army and Flt Lt. Ed Stephens from the Royal Air Force were the special guests on the day

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.”

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