Hindu Temples in the UK

The Fruits of Difficult InterFaith Conversations -

The Fruit of Difficult InterFaith Conversations - 100 Exiled Sikhs can return to their homeland in Punjab.

 

"Genuine InterFaith Dialogue is not only vital to community cohesion but it may be THE critical area which will deliver or deny a peaceful 21st Century. It is the hardest space to work in but for those with motives based upon true seva and the courage to recognise that they may not have all the answers, the rewards can be pivotal as this news shows." Satish K Sharma, General Secretary, NCHT(UK)

The news that 100 Sikhs, who were exiled by the Congress government following Operation Bluestar, can now visit their families and their Punjabi homeland is a testament to the force for good which genuine InterFaith can be. The NCHT(UK) places on record its deep appreciation for the courageous visionaries in the British Sikh community who took a risk in extending their hands and supporting our "Dharma Rising" initiative and for welcoming Dr Swamy into the Hounslow Gurudwara for a ground breaking seminar. Their vision has begun to be realised today with the removal by the BJP Government of India, of the ban on 100 exiled Sikhs.

The premier Indian news portal pgurus.com yesterday announced:-

 

"It all started with Dr. Swamy’s visit to the UK in 2015, flying on the winds of great expectations and anticipation. A series of events organised by Satish Sharma of gss 04 smlVHS-UK as part of the National Council of Hindu Temples (NCHTUK) called ‘Dharma Rising’, gave oxygen to the masses to engage in productive, positive debate reflecting upon issues ranging from interfaith dialogue, relationships between India and the UK, the British General Election and the Indian Diaspora."

 

The series of events took place at venues in London, Slough, and Birmingham. In a dramatic gesture of goodwill between the Hindu and Sikh community, co-ordinated by Dr Jasdev Singh Rai and the Trustees of the British Sikh Consultative Forum, and the Trustees of the NCHT(UK) supported by the Trustees and Management Committee of the Hounslow Sri Guru Granth Sahib Gurudwara, Dr. Swamy became the first Indian politician to be welcomed in any Gurdwara in the West since 1984. Also present was Sr Raghbir Singh of the DamDami Taksal.

It's undeniable that the meeting commenced with an almost palpable air of distrust and suspicion, of unrecognised suffering and injustice. The presence of courageous Hindu and Sikh community leaders ensured that a "safe container" was maintained within which the most uncomfortable and sensitve issues could be explored and understood. When the seminar and meeting concluded a cordial, mutually respectful atmosphere prevailed. Dr Swamy had made a commitment to take back the wishes of all community members present in the gathering and to press for, amongst other needs, freedom to return for exiled Sikhs.

With the determination which is a hallmark of Dr Swamyji's campaigning, Dr Swamy lobbied the Indian Government, continued meetings with members of the Sikh Community globally as well as in India, where he met Sr Jasbir Singh Rode of the DamDami Taksal and succeeded in commencing the process of reconciliation. Today one of the wounds inflicted upon the Sikh diaspora has begun to heal.

 

dss gw langarsmlOn reflection there were many reasons for the meeting not to have happened. Many raucous voices objected to Dr Swamy visiting the UK, claiming everything from "Hindu Fundamentalism" due to his BJP membership, of "Islamaphobia" because of his Ram Temple campaign and many other ad hominem attacks. He was prevented from speaking at Oxford University, there were complaints to the Charity Commission alleging that his visit was politically motivated etc etc but the meetings continued and due to the courage of the Sikh and Hindu community organisations and the spirit of genuine interfaith dialogue, the paradigm has today shifted.

 

 

 

Noteworthy was the observation regarding the social media hype, made by one of the young Hindu volunteers at the time - "No ltr sikhone is focussing on the important matters being discussed, why are they criticising the people and not challenging the facts being discussed?" It is clear that in addition to the many good people and leaders of all faiths who do wish to improve our British communites and strengthen our inter community ties, there are equally very vocal voices who do not wish to see inter and intra faith harmony improving. They can usually be identified by their use of ad hominem attacks and they themselves pose the greatest threat to a harmonious, integrated tranquil multi cultural society, one comprised of diverse voices and history's, maintaining their diversity, but learning to live with each other, for each other.

The Trustees of the NCHT(UK) who are followers of the Dharmic principles of Satya (Reality), Jnana (Wisdom), Ahimsa (Non Violence), Shanti (Tranquility) recognise that the "appearance of InterFaith dialogue" (known as chai samosa InterFaith or fake InterFaith) is easy and comfortable but has not delivered what Britain so desperately needs. It is clear that the British people desperately need authentic InterFaith, which like Dharma, requires honest engagement and dialogue. With the support of courageous leaders of all faiths and traditions, and with the patronage of equally courageous Parliamentarians such as Dr Subramanian Swamy MP, Bob Blackman MP and Seema Malhotra MP, we hope to continue to see more successful "Hard Talk initiatives" emerging from all communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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