Attending a Ram Katha at Cambridge University on Indian Independence Day, Rishi Sunak proclaimed that he was there “not as a Prime Minister but as a Hindu”.
“It is truly an honour and pleasure to be here today at Morari Bapu’s Ram Kahtha at the University of Cambridge on Indian Independence Day. Bapu, I am here today not as a Prime Minister but as a Hindu,” said Mr Sunak, the UK’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister, who is also a practising Hindu with Punjabi roots.
Mr Sunak was born and raised in Southampton, but his appointment as his UK’s first prime minister of colour has been cheered by Indians who still consider him a son of the soil.
“Like an ordinary person, our Rishi sahab is here. A warm welcome to you. May lord Hanuman bless you and the British people reap the benefits,” said the spiritual leader welcoming the Prime Minister.
Mr Sunak said that his Hindu faith guides him in every aspect of his life and gives him the courage to do the best as the Prime Minister of Britain.
“For me, faith is very personal. It guides me in every aspect of my life. Being Prime Minister is a great honour, but it is not an easy job. There are difficult decisions to make, hard choices to confront and our faith gives me courage, strength, and resilience to do the best that I can for our country,” he said.
Pointing to a large golden image of Lord Hanuman as the backdrop to Morari Bapu’s Ram Katha, the British prime minister said it reminded him of how a “golden Ganesha sits gleefully on my desk at 10 Downing Street”.
“It is a constant reminder to me about listening and reflecting on issues before acting,” he shared.
Mr Sunak reflected upon his childhood years in Southampton where he often visited his neighbourhood temple with family.
“Growing up, I have very fond memories of attending our local mandir in Southampton. My parents and family would organise havans, pujas, aartis; afterwards, I would help serve lunch and prasad with my brother and sister and cousins,” said Mr Sunak.
“Our values and what I see Bapu does each day of his life are the values of selfless service, devotion and keeping faith. But perhaps the greatest value is duty or sewa, as we know it. These Hindu values are very much shared British values,” he noted.
Referencing his family’s immigrant history, Sunak noted how many among the hundreds gathered at the Katha had parents and grandparents who came to the UK with very little from India and East Africa and worked their way up to give his generation the greatest opportunities ever.
“I leave here today remembering the ‘Ramayana’ that Bapu speaks on, but also the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. And for me, Lord Ram will always be an inspirational figure to face life’s challenges with courage, to govern with humility and to work selflessly,” he added.
He concluded his address with the words ‘Jai Siya Ram’ and went on to participate in an aarti on stage, with Morari Bapu invoking the blessings of Lord Hanuman.
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