Source: Hindu Press International / The Times
UNITED KINGDOM, June 30, 2007: Mr. Anil Bhanot, general secretary of the Hindu Council UK, speaks candidly about the challenges facing Hindus in the UK and about the role the Hindu Council has played in lobbying for British Hindus in the country. Times correspondent Michael Binyon explains, "Hindus in Britain have a problem: they fit in too well. They do not march, demonstrate or threaten violence. Most achieve good results at school and hold good jobs. Many find their religion compatible with Western society. And, as a result, official Britain takes little notice. Beset by worries over failing integration, the Government takes the large, and largely successful, Indian community for granted."
"Young Hindus feel that nothing is done for them. So they become more identity-oriented. They say they must assert themselves - 'I'm a Hindu, let me have a piece of the cake'," says Mr. Bhanot. Mr. Bhanot points out that the Hindu Council has been lobbying for a Bank Holiday in October to celebrate Diwali but the government has ignored the request. However the Hindu Council was instrumental in the area of bringing trained priests into Britain by persuading the government to create two categories, one for religious workers and another for ministers of religions. As a result the news release says that about 100 priests, staying for four years, now come to Britain each year.
Mr. Bhanot adds, "Our forefathers established temples, and we are grateful. Then, because of secular pressures on young Hindus in a predominantly Christian environment, there was a gap in building in the 1970s. But from the 1980s, after the temples were built, the emphasis has shifted to festivals and celebrations." In order to keep the youth philosophically interested the council has trained scholars called pundits available to answer their religious questions. In addition the Hindu Council has supported the need for crematoriums that respond to Hindu traditions.