ASIAN MPs and peers came together to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, at an event in parliament on Monday (1).
MPs Navendu Mishra (Labour, Stockport), Shailesh Vara (Conservative, North West Cambridgeshire) and Virendra Sharma (Labour, Ealing Southall) hosted a reception for about 100 guests at the State Rooms, Speaker’s House in the House of Commons.
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle MP told the select gathering, “We have a house of commons that can be so diverse. I am so proud that we bring a community together.”
He paid tribute to soldiers from the subcontinent who fought under the British in the two world wars and more recently, the efforts of the Asian community during the pandemic and added, “the friendship of the two countries (India and the UK) must get stronger.
“It is so important that we build on the relationships and the fact that people care in this country.”
Acknowledging the role of migrants in the NHS, the speaker said, “you helped build this country and we have a debt of gratitude to the people from the community.”
Mishra noted the contribution of British Indians to the UK and also read out a message from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who was unable to attend as he tested positive for Covid-19 and was in quarantine.
Conservative MP Vara said, “It’s good that we are able to physically celebrate Diwali again, and in the magnificent setting of the Speaker’s State Rooms.
“The significance of Diwali, the triumph of good over evil, is as important today as it has been through the ages.
That message of hope extends to triumphing over the dark shadow of the pandemic. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, we must maintain hope and faith that ultimately good will triumph.”
Vara also remembered the late Sir David Amess, who was murdered in his Southend constituency just a few days ago.
“He was a victim of the dark forces of evil, that seek to harm and unsettle the normal way of life we have, the democratic way of life. And one thing is absolutely clear, this parliament and the vast majority of the United Kingdom will ensure that those forces of evil will not prevail,” he said.
President of the Bhaktivedanta temple in Watford, Visakha Dasi, offered prayers on the occasion.
Among those attending the reception were Lord Navnit Dholakia (Liberal Democrats) and Baroness Sandy Verma (Conservative).