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October - November 2004


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Dispatches & Reports

Tony Blair praises Krishna Celebrations
The annual Hare Krishna Janmashtami festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, promises to be the biggest ever celebration of its kind in the United Kingdom attracting over 60,000 pilgrims from around the UK.

The festivities, rooted in a 5,000 year old spiritual tradition will take place over two days on Sunday the 5th of September and Monday the 6th of September 2004 at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the head quarters of the Hare Krishna movement in the UK.

"I am delighted to send my very best wishes to everyone attending the Janmashtami Festival at the ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple, said Prime Minister Tony Blair. Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna, is a festival that teaches us the values of the family, the importance of justice, and the significance of faith. As such, it is a festival whose values are shared by all faith traditions. I offer my best wishes and greetings to the Hindu community in Britain on this joyous occasion. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is an example of how faith communities make an important contribution to building strong active communities and are engaged in a huge range of voluntary activities which benefit the wider community," he added. Messages of support were also received from leaders of all the opposition parties (see notes to Editor)

"As with all great religious traditions the appearance day of the Lord is a most significant event and is an occasion for great joy and celebration. Janmashtami is certainly no different," said Praghosa Das, the newly appointed leader of the Hare Krishna movement in the UK.

Janmashtami attracts a congregation of pilgrims inclusive of all spiritual cultures. The festival of the birth of Lord Krishna is a feast for the body, mind and spirit, a whirl of colour, dance, drama and music. Meditation, yoga, multi-media shows all assist families from all walks of life to reconfirm their spiritual commitments and service in honour of God. The traditional free vegetarian food, which has become the trademark of the Hare Krishnas, will be available in abundance to end a perfect spiritual experience.

"Janmashtami is the most celebrated festival in the Hindu tradition. Each year tens of thousands of pilgrims travel from across the country to offer their homage, prayers, and worship to Lord Krishna on the day of His appearance. At this festival you will experience an atmosphere of profound joy, inner illumination and peace", says Gauri Das, Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple President.

The main celebration areas will features Indian Vedic culture as it relates to Spirituality (Who am I? Who is God?); Food (as a stepping stone to God realisation); and the Arts (a cultural presentation for the re-spiritualisation of society). The temple building will be transformed with colourful, educational exhibits depicting the pastimes of Lord Krishna as they took place over 5000 years ago.

Janmashtami is observed by one billion Hindus in the world and is now celebrated in over 360 ISKCON temples and communities worldwide.

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Navin Shah's Success in Harrow

Congratulations to energetic and popular Cllr. Navin Shah of Borough of Harrow on being elected as the new leader of the Labour Group in Harrow Council. He is the first Asian to achieve such a high office in the London borough of Harrow.

Cllr. Shah has worked very hard indeed since he was elected as a Councillor, representing Kenton East, some ten years ago, although he has worked among his constituents for a very long time prior to becoming a Councillor. He is a regular visitor to Kenton Swaminarayan Hindu Temple, where most of his constituents gather, worship and socialize. So he is in constant touch with his constituents and supporters alike on a weekly basis.




Although we are all proud and happy for Cllr. Navin, I must stress that he has achieved his ambition, climbed the last few steps and reached the podium without much political involvement from the Harrow Indian community. As a Labour activist, I know how difficult it is for us to persuade members of the Indian community to actively participate in the political process of this great nation.

Their most common excuse is that they do not have time but I see most of them thronging pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants on a weekly basis while we require their presence at a political meeting may be once a year, unless they want to become an active member and participate in the Ward activities. They must consider political participation as essential as going to a doctor when they are ill or attending social functions such as marriages and birthday parties which abound in our society.

When our candidates, our representatives do not get a party ticket for a safe Labour Parliamentary seat, such as Brent East or Tooting South, we shout foul play but the fault lies with our community members, our community leaders and various Hindu organizations who do nothing to encourage their members to join a political party and get actively involved in politics. Some such organizations and temple authorities expressly forbid political discussion on their premises. What a short sighted bunch of people we are?

I am afraid, Cllr. Navin Shah's promise not to raise council tax above the inflation rate by the year 2006, although admirable is not what most Council Tax payers want. The CT has already more than doubled during the reign of this Labour government and is beyond our capacity, especially those who are on a fixed income, even to pay the present rate of CT.

Most of us want a substantial reduction and the shortfall in the council revenue should be raised by other means but we do know that this is not in the hands of the Council leader to change the basic principle of the CT or to introduce an alternative method of funding.

But I hope that now Cllr. Shah is the leader of the Labour Council, he may have a direct line of communication and some influence with the government. If he promises to convey our worry, our apprehension, our anxiety and our disquiet to the highest office, then perhaps the tenure of the Labour controlled Harrow council may not come to an abrupt end at the next local election.

The three-day Ahmadiyya Muslim Convention ends with prayers
More than three hundred thousand people joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community during the year.

Addressing the concluding session of the three-day Ahmadiyya Muslim convention held in the forty acre grounds of ‘Islamabad’, Tilford Surrey, the Supreme Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad announced that more than three hundred thousand people from different countries of the world and belonging to different races had entered the fold of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community during the past year.

An international Ba’it (Initiation ceremony) took place on Sunday in which all these people gathered in ‘Islamabad’, Surrey as well as in their respective countries and through a satellite system repeated the words of initiation after Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, thus declaring that they have accepted Ahmadiyya Islam. The whole proceedings were broadcast live around the world on MTA international (a free 24 hour satellite TV channel available on Sky Digital Channel 807).

The supreme head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community told the audience that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wanted to create a Community of righteous people, those who obey the commands of Allah and serve humanity. Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad described three ways and means of safeguarding the faith from the attacks of Satan:

‘Firstly that one should desist from evil and try to acquire good habits. One should try to establish peace on earth and aim to create an atmosphere of love, care and harmony. One should always be ready to make sacrifices for one another. One should serve humanity to the best of ones ability and acquire a high standard of righteousness’.

‘The second method for self purification and acquiring good values is through Prayers’. One should offer one’s Prayers at their appointed times and beg pardon of one’s sins from Allah’.

‘The third method by which one can purify one’s self is to acquire the company of truthful people because by doing so one’s character would definitely change for the better’.

Concluding his address he mentioned that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian had established the system of Wassiyat. Al Wasiyyat is a scheme whereby a person makes a will of 1/10th of ones movable and immovable property, and to the best of ones ability lives in accordance with Islamic teachings, always striving in the ways of righteousness and careful not to transgress where the rights of others are concerned. He urged the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to enter the Nizam-e-Wassiyat (The System of Wills) to attain nearness to God Almighty.

According to Mr. Rashid Ahmad Chaudhry, International Press Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, more than 25 thousand people attended the last session of the Convention.

Oral History Project & Hounslow Seniors Trust
Launch of Interviews on CD at Watermans Arts Centre, London

Most cultures have rich oral traditions, more so in the case of Asians. Ancient Indian mythological stories have been passed though word of mouth from one generation to other. It is believed that it was perhaps the ‘sound’ first that recorded the progress of human evolution. Perhaps this is the reason that most Asians, especially the older generation are good at telling their stories rather than writing them down.

The CD includes nine interviews with Asian people of different backgrounds, including councillor Jagdish Sharma, Deputy Leader of London Borough of Hounslow, a renowned Urdupoet Sajjad Shamsi and his wife Darshi, Ajit Rai, an experienced community worker and one of the founders of Indian Workers Association, an active Lion and charity worker Surjit Bhalla, voluntary workers like Amrik Suri and his wife Ved and Abnash Singh. They all share their experiences, trials and tribulations and tell their stories of migration and settling in the UK. It also includes a brief chat with Channi Singh of Alaap with his music. All interviews are conducted by Chaman Lal Chaman, a veteran broadcaster and a renowned poet.

As the CD includes the edited version of interviews, full recordings will be archived at Gunnersbury park Museum. Chaman Lal Chaman has published ‘Sabrang’, the second book of his Punjabi poems.



During the recent visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the United Kingdom, the Dalai Lama invited Sarosh Zaiwalla of Zaiwala & Co. solicitors of Chancery Lane, London for a private audience. It was a professional meeting. At the end of the meeting Mr Zaiwalla had the honour of being presented with a shawl by the Dalai Lama. Photo taken in the hotel suite of the Dalai Lama in Glasgow, Scotland.



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