Yesterday, Portcullis House stood host to the second annual Raksha Bandhan celebration in the Houses of Parliament. The event was arranged by the All Party Parliamentary Group of British Hindus — a group led by Bob Blackman MP (Harrow East) to support and promote the interests of British Hindus to Parliament. Special guests included Virendra Sharma MP (Lab), Gavin Barwell MP (Cons), Shailesh Vara MP (Cons), and Deputy High Commissioner of India Dr Virendra Paul.
Ms Manu Khajuria — a freelance writer and social work professional — was one of many who spoke at the event. In a presentation on the meaning and cultural significance of Raksha Bandhan, Ms Khajuria made special remarks about its importance for gender equality. Raksha Bandhan, she argued, serves as an important reminder that men and women depend on each other in equal measure.
Mr Dhruv Chhatralia — a lawyer and Hindu scholar — spoke at length about the historical trajectory of Hinduism, and about how many Hindu practices, such as Raksha Bandhan, underscore the very values we want to see reflected in parliaments around the world.
As the floor opened to questions from the many guests that attended the event, the issue of caste legislation quickly emerged as a point of discussion. Mr Blackman urged concerned members to remain patient, as lobbying for repeal of the amendment to the Equality Act could prove time consuming.
The event concluded with cheers and gusts of laughter as guests tied rakhis around each others’ wrists.