Prime minister Theresa May has urged the British public to follow the values of “hope, optimism, of forgiveness” represented by Diwali and the Hindu New Year as the nation looks to build a positive future post Brexit.
Speaking at a Diwali celebration she hosted on Monday (24) at Downing Street, the prime minister revealed that having attended many Diwali events over the years in her constituency, she knows the impact the festival has on people and the values it imparts on them.
“The values he (Lord Rama) embodied are values which we can all heed,” said May. “Values of charity, sacrifice and responsibility; to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi: losing ourselves in the service of others.
“”Values of good conduct – ‘dharma’ – taking the right path and ensuring that good triumphs over evil.
“Values of hope, optimism, of forgiveness – of the new beginnings and clean slates represented by the Hindu New Year as people wear new clothes and say prayers for the year ahead.
“I think these are the values we need more than ever as we forge a new, positive, ambitious role for Britain in the world.”
May added that her government was determined to build a “fairer Britain” where people could achieve their dreams no matter what their background may be. And she felt it was crucial that those barriers stopping people from reaching their potential were broken down.
She said: “Society becomes stronger, as people from all backgrounds play their part in making our schools, hospitals, police forces and armed forces the best they can be.”
One sector where barriers were constantly being overcome is the political system, with the prime minister highlighting how the government now had more representatives from black and ethnic minority group. She acknowledged the presence of key figures at the Diwali reception, attended by 150 guests from across the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities, such as Priti Patel, secretary of state for international development; Sajid Javid, secretary of state for local government and communities; Lord Jitesh Gadhia; and foreign offfice minister Alok Sharma.
India prime minister Narendra Modi was in London for Diwali last year and May will be in India next month in what will be her first overseas visit outside the European Union.
The prime minister said she was “delighted” to be going to India and it would be “a true celebration of relations between our countries and our shared ambitions for the future”.