Sir Keir Starmer and members of the Shadow Cabinet, including Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow minister for International Development Lisa Nandy, joined the British Asian Trust to celebrate Diwali on Tuesday (31).
The event showcased the organisation’s accomplishments, such as its significant Mental Health programme in south Asia and the launch of a $50 million Child Opportunity Fund aimed at improving opportunities for millions of children.
Distinguished British Indians, and Vikram Doraiswami, the Indian High Commissioner, were also present at the event. Doraiswami joined Sir Keir on stage who lit a symbolic ‘diya’ candle and received garlands of flowers from children, representing the community, a press release from British Asian Trust said.
Welcoming the esteemed guests, Chair of the British Asian Trust, Lord Jitesh Gadhia said, “The 31st of October is indeed a special day. By fortunate coincidence, today is also the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day of India, marking the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – one of India’s great freedom fighters and nation builders. So, it is especially poignant that we come together today from different walks of life and from diverse traditions to celebrate Diwali, the joyful Festival of Lights.”
He added, “It’s wonderful that we live in a country, where whatever your background or beliefs, we can all join British Indians in marking the spirit of Diwali, with its universal and timeless appeal.”
During his address, Starmer, leader of the Labour Party said, “In dark times such as these, it is more important than ever that we focus on a positive future in which we work together across communities and faiths. Only by doing so will we ensure that everyone, no matter their background, has an opportunity for a peaceful, fulfilled and happy life.”
He added, “Tonight, I reiterate my gratitude to the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities for the enormous contribution they make to this great country of ours. Your positive impact is felt across so many spheres and sectors, and that your contribution is pursued in accordance with your spiritual convictions, reflects the powerful message of Diwali.”