HINDUISM represents “the guide to life and how to do the right thing”, prime minister David Cameron said as he hosted his sixth Diwali reception at Downing Street on Tuesday (10).
Drawing on the religion’s philosophy of karma and dharma, the prime minister praised Britain’s Asian communities for their values of good conduct, their approach to service or seva and wanting to support their families.
Addressing Hindu, Sikh and Jain community leaders, entrepreneurs and policy makers, Cameron made references to Ramayana and its relevance to contemporary communities.
The prime minister said: “It seems to me that what matters so much about this festival and the triumph of light over darkness is what lies behind that - people who aren’t Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, when we think of this religion, we think of the importance of karma and and inner peace and pleasure, but of course what is at the heart of it all is dharma, rather than karma - the guide to life and how to do the right thing.
“And as we bring up our children, I think explaining to people, good conduct and doing the right thing and the importance of conduct is so vital.
“So to me, that’s what I take from this extraordinary festival, the extraordinary story of the Ramayana, which is such a beautiful and important work.”
Cameron said the beliefs of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains were values that Britain needed more of.
“The values of wanting to support your family, wanting to support your community, believing in service, and service to others, these are values that out country needs more of.”
The reception was the prime minister’s sixth such Diwali reception and one which he said has become a “firm date” in the calendar.
He revealed how he was looking forward to welcoming Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to Britain on Thursday (12).
One of the highlights of Modi’s visit is, of course, his address at Wembley Stadium on Friday (12). Cameron, who joked that he struggled to fill Wembley Town Hall, said it was going to be an extraordinary Friday. He also gave away a little secret - the ministry of defence (MoD) scrambled to find the right colour of saffron as the Red Arrows are set to fly the colours of the Indian flag when Modi arrives in central London to speak in parliament.
“I think it’s going to be spectacular. We are going to see for the first time ever the Red Arrows flying but with the colours of the Indian flag coming out in the smoke behind.
“I can’t tell you how many officials it took in the MoD to find the orange smoke - it was one of the most complicated procurement acts we had in recent times. But that will happen.”
“To me what’s exciting about all this is that we are talking of two countries that have very close ties, that have very intertwined histories, that have a very strong past together.
“But what I think is so important is the future that we can have together,” he added.