Armed forces personnel from across the UK came together with Britain’s Hindu communities to celebrate the festival of Raksha Bandhan over the past a few weeks.
The UK Armed Forces Hindu Network organised Raksha Bandhan celebrations in the lead up to today’s festival at the Ministry of Defence in London besides a Raksha Bandhan tour of several temples in Newcastle, Swindon, Liverpool, and London.
“As we exchange our multi-coloured bands, it’s a unique opportunity to remind ourselves of the multifaceted ties that bind our great Hindu community and our Armed Forces together. To defend ourselves we must unite: speaking up for those beliefs of tolerance, fairness and dignity, that make us who we are,” said UK defence minister Earl Howe.
Serving personnel from the Armed Forces and ministry of defence (MoD) civil servants had a Rakhi tied to their wrist during recent festivities at the MoD headquarters in London.
Members of various community forums, including the Hindu Council UK and the Hindu Forum of Britain, came together to celebrate the occasion, along with the Chief of Defence People (CDP) – Lieutenant General Richard Nugee – and the Director of Submarine Capability – Rear Admiral Tim Hodgson.
“Hindus have time and again contributed to the defence of the UK. During the First World War, 1,750,000 Hindus deployed overseas. In the Second World War, over 1.25 million Hindus played a pivotal role in the allied victory,” the MoD said in a statement today.
Last week, UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and senior defence leaders paid respect to those who fell during the First World War at the commemorations of the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
A ceremony was held at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, which also bears the names of hundreds of Indian troops whose graves are unknown. Located nearby to Menin Gate is an Indian Forces Memorial, which is dedicated to the 130,000 troops of the Indian Forces who served in Flanders during the World Wars.