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December 2006 - January 2007


The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan: Tessa Jowell joins in Diwali Celebrations as chief guest at Bhawan’s Diwali Banquet

Once again the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan held its prestigious Diwali Banquet on the 7th November at the Marriott Hotel in Swiss Cottage, London. This year’s chief guest was The Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Attending as joint chief guest, was The Deputy High Commissioner for India. Also present were the Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham, members of both Houses of Parliament and many leading members of the community.

Following the Bhavan’s Prayer given by Dr M.N. Nandakumara, Mr Maneck Dalal OBE, Chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan UK, said that he was delighted that the Secretary of State had been able to come, despite her very busy schedule. He said that the Bhavan was committed to being an inclusive part of the country’s society. An instance of this inclusivity was the fact that the Bhavan had entered the UK’s higher education system with the launch of its new Indian Music Degree, held in collaboration with Trinity College of Music. In addition, our concerts were open to all, and often featured musicians from other areas such as Jazz, African, Caribbean and Western Classical Music. Also we played a full part in the activities of Hammersmith and Fulham. At this point he especially welcomed the new Mayor, Cllr Minnie Scott-Russell and paid tribute to the help we had received from the Borough.

The Rt. Hon.Tessa Jowell began by saying that she felt honoured to be present amongst so many who had been working with such dedication for the sake of the community. Members of the community were linked by the beauty, magic and spiritual stimulation of Indian artistic culture. The Secretary of State then recalled her last contact with the Bhavan which had been in 2002 when she had opened the Millennium Extension and Art Gallery at the Bhavan’s premises in West Kensington. She was very proud that support for the Bhavan was continuing from the Arts Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Millennium Commission. She was impressed with the Bhavan as a place which reached out to those who may not have had an opportunity to experience the arts and to bring them into contact with the full breadth of art, not just as spectators, but as participants. The Bhavan had made an enormous difference to every one of its students on its regular courses as well as the new degree course. She then mentioned two of her particular passions – the promotion of access to excellence in our arts and culture; and links with India. The relationship between India and the UK was deep, strong and well-established. She also had her own links with India personally and through her department. A new cultural agreement involving co-operation in film-making would be signed with her counterpart in India next year. She knew that India’s economy was growing and felt that this would strengthen cultural ties between the two countries. She firmly believed that the culture of Britain is made richer by the collaboration with other cultures. The Bhavan was enriching the culture of this country as a whole and not just the communities which it serves in London. This occasion of Diwali was a wonderful example of community outreach by the Bhavan.

The Deputy High Commissioner of India, Sri Rajan Mathai also paid tribute to the work done by the Bhavan. He went on to say that the last year had been one of spectacular achievement by the Indian community in the United Kingdom. He noted that amongst those present were some high achievers who had made him proud of the very name ‘India’. He also said that he was aware of the work done by the Secretary of State in the field of bilateral co-operation in the field of the arts. This occasion brought together all those who wished to celebrate the glorious tradition of India art and culture. He commended the Bhavan for portraying Indian culture at its best.

After a short cultural programme given by the Bhavan’s teachers and students, the Bhavan’s Vice Chairman and organiser of the Banquet, Mr Joginder Sanger then gave the vote of thanks in which he thanked The Secretary of State, The Deputy High Commissioner and all the other distinguished guests.

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