UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has explained the significance of the Lord Ganesha statuette on his desk at 10 Downing Street as the God that showers good luck and blessings.
The British Indian leader, in an interview with the ‘Conservative Home’ website in the lead up to the local elections on May 4 recently, was asked about the “shrine” on his desk.
Sunak explained: “On my desk I have a Lord Ganesha, which is very common. Generally, when you start a new job or something like that or you take over a new business, typically, you would offer a prayer to Lord Ganesha because he brings you good luck when you start a new venture.
“Actually, when I became Chancellor, I did that. So, the Ganesha has been with me from the time I was Chancellor and then moved over to my desk at No. 10 as well. So, that’s why most Indian families will offer prayers to Ganesha at the start of a new job or in a new home, that’s always the first thing you do. So, that’s why he’s there.”
The devout Hindu, who swore his oath of allegiance on being elected as a member of Parliament in the House of Commons on the ‘Bhagavad Gita’, had taken time out for darshan at the famous Bhaktivedanta Manor ISKCON temple during the course of the lengthy leadership election campaign last year and had members of the Indian diaspora praying for his success.
Soon after taking charge as Britain’s first Hindu Prime Minister, Sunak noted in a letter to Visakha Dasi, President of the Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna Temple in Watford, the “special resonance” Gita quotations hold for him.
As the first Chancellor to light diyas on the doorstep of No. 11 Downing Street, his Conservative Party election victory on Diwali day last year was hailed as serendipitous by Hindus worldwide.
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The Southampton-born Prime Minister, who is married to Akshata Murthy, has also spoken of family visits to the temple with their daughters Krishna and Anoushka.
Last week, he issued a special Vaisakhi message for the British Sikh community with the traditional Punjabi phrase: “Saareya nu Vaisakhi diyan lakh lakh vadhaiyan!” soon after his phone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
His message read: “I want to wish Sikhs across the UK and around the world a very happy Vaisakhi. You make an incredible contribution to national life. From the heroes of both world wars to those working in the modern-day NHS, Sikhs have played a huge role in making Britain what it is today.
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“As your PM I thank you for everything you do, and whether celebrating this auspicious occasion at your local gurdwara or at home with loved ones, I hope you have a wonderful day.”