British High Commission Deputy Head Philip Barton Stresses Importance of UK-India Ties at Diwali Celebration

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November 19, 2012

By Geeta Goindi

British Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Philip Barton lights the traditional ‘diya’ (lamp) at the Diwali celebration as Pandit Shankaran (left) of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, in Lanham, MD chants a mantra for peace and prosperity

November 19, 2012

By Geeta Goindi

British Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Philip Barton lights the traditional ‘diya’ (lamp) at the Diwali celebration as Pandit Shankaran (left) of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, in Lanham, MD chants a mantra for peace and prosperity

WASHINGTON DC – It was a riveting sight: the British Deputy Head of Mission lighting the traditional ‘diya’ (lamp) on November 15, 2012 at the Diwali celebration in his residence here. Mr. Philip Barton performed this ritual in the presence of representatives of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain community as Pandit Shankaran of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, in Lanham, chanted a mantra for peace and prosperity.

Representatives of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths lit the ‘diya’ (lamp) at the Diwali celebration in the residence of the British Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Philip Barton (third from left) in Washington DC

“Diwali is a great festival”, the British diplomat told an eminent gathering of professionals, elected officials, performing artistes, representatives of local temples and gurudwaras.  On hand, from the state of Maryland, were Majority Leader Kumar Barve, House of Delegates, and Delegate Sam Arora, Montgomery County District 19, both Democrats.

British Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Philip Barton (left) addressing the gathering at the Diwali celebration in his residence as Pandit Shankaran of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, in Lanham, MD looks on

Barton told this gathering, experts in distinct fields: “Our relationship – the United Kingdom’s relationship with India, with the Hindu, Sikh and Jain community around the world – is not only very long-standing, but it is also very important and forward-looking … Of course now, there is a long relationship between the United Kingdom and India which is turning into a new, modern partnership.  It is a partnership which manifests itself in the community in the United Kingdom – Hindu, Sikh, Jain and all those who celebrate Diwali.  And it is also a partnership between two nations”, both on a global level and bilaterally, he said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague capped a successful visit to India earlier this month and Barton quoted the core of his remarks: “I believe that the 21st century more than any previous period will be shaped by India.  Ours is a genuine partnership of equals.  There are many more exciting opportunities and we look forward to taking this to the next stage and to being a partner of choice for India in many areas over the years to come”.

British Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Philip Barton (third from left) is seen with representatives of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain community at the Diwali celebration at his residence in Washington DC

Barton has been in Washington for well over a year now and this was the second Diwali celebration at his abode.  “It is something that I really look forward to”, he said.  The Deputy Head was dressed in a Nehru suit, a possession since he was posted in the British High Commission in Delhi, back in the 1990s, which he recalled as “a particularly fond time.  It was when I met my wife Amanda.  My mother was born in 1929, in Simla, the daughter of an officer in the Indian army before India became an independent country.  I feel India is, if not in my genes, in my blood and I have a long, personal relationship with the country”, he said.

Barton thanked his Embassy staff and the Hindu American Foundation for partnering with the British mission in the Diwali celebration.

At the Diwali celebration in the residence of British Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Philip Barton are seen from left to right: Jay Kansara, Barton, Christylez, Ranjani Prabhakar and Pandit Shankaran of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, Maryland

For entertainment, there were two cultural performances by the South Asian Performing Arts Network (SAPAN) Institute: Ganesha shloka and Aarti by Siddharth Nigam and Pia Chakrabarti; and Carnatic pieces, ‘Varalakshmi Neeye’ (a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi) and ‘Chalamelara’ (a prayer to Lord Rama), by Ranjani Prabhakar and

Christylez Bacon, a progressive hip-hop artiste and 2010 Grammy nominee.

Ranjani Prabhakar (left) and Christylez Bacon presented Carnatic music pieces invoking Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Rama at the Diwali celebration in the residence of the British Deputy Head of Mission in Washington DC

Jay Kansara, Associate Director, Government Affairs, at the Hindu American Foundation, who played an active role in coordinating the event at the British Embassy, mentioned that The SAPAN Institute, a Washington-based non-profit organization, “is a group which specializes in dance, theater as well as music.  Its members are available to the community to perform at different events and different venues to bring that traditional as well as even a modern musical, theatrical and dance flavor to your events”, he said.


Diwali Special by MYDOSTI.COM

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