In memory of Gangotri- - Ancient ceremony charms Hindu community

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Media Release:
from Bhaktivedanta Manor, Watford, Herts

Digitaries travelled from all over the country to take part in Bhaktivedanta Manor’s ‘Bhumi Puja’ ceremony on Sunday 3rd February. The ground-breaking ceremony included chanting of 10,000 year old Sanskrit prayers, ancient costumes, traditional dances, and devotional singing to the accompaniment of Indian drums and cymbals. The ceremony represented the inauguration of Europe’s largest cow protection farm, built in memory of Gangotri, the temple cow killed in a despicable manner by the RSPCA.

Plans for building Europe’s largest Cow Protection Centre, called ‘New Gokul’ were approved by Hertsmere Borough Council after numerous planning applications and a public enquiry. Many councilors had indicated that they were impressed with the design and the sustainable character of the proposed farm buildings.

“In Britain, 3.38 million cows and bulls are killed every year. Nearly all young bulls die before they reach their third birthday,” concluded Gauri Dasa, President of Bhaktivedanta Manor and Spiritual Commissioner of the Hindu Forum of Britain. “But at New Gokul, the new cow protection farm, we will demonstrate new ways of ethical, compassionate and sustainable farming.”

Enraged

Enraged after the recent killing of the sacred cow Gangotri and noting the lack of sympathy from the government, many Hindu leaders then collectively agreed to tell Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the ‘Government has failed the British Hindu community’. The strong message was unanimously adopted as a resolution by outraged Hindu leaders.

“This Government has no regard for the needs of communities that do not shout,” commented Sudarshan Bhatia, President of the National Council of Hindu Temples. “Hindu leaders wrote to the Prime Minister 45 days ago, and there is not even an acknowledgement. If this had been some other community, the Government would have rushed to find a solution. Just because Hindus are quite, we are ignored, isolated and sidelined.”

“The impression we get is that those who shout the loudest or cause problems get immediate attention from this Government, while those who work actively to make community cohesion a reality get ignored,” explained Ishwer Tailor, President of the Hindu Forum of Britain. “There has been a catalogue of issues that we have raised with the Government and they have ignored our concerns. Of course, there is a lot of lip-service, tokenistic meetings and assurances, but very little practical action follows. Having spoken to several stakeholders, I know that our community is becoming increasingly restless with this Government and wondering whether it is even worth continuing to engage with them.”

“The lethargy from this Government is unacceptable,” said Gauri Dasa, President of Bhaktivedanta Manor. “A DEFRA minister wrote a letter to us taking the RSPCA stand and telling us that we were wrong. Who in their right mind will believe that the Government is actually serious about talking to faith communities when they do not even pick up the phone to talk to us before writing judgemental letters like these?”

“Representatives from scores of Hindu organisations passed a resolution declaring the failure of the Government to engage purposefully with Hindus and asking for immediate dialogue,” reported Kapil Dudakia, Trustee of the Milton Keynes Hindu Association and a member of the Justice for Gangotri Taskforce. “We hope this Government will sit up, take note, and stop ignoring our genuine concerns.”

Organisations that have already registered their support for the resolution are Balaji Mandir Birmingham, Federation of Brahmin Associations of UK, Gujarat Hindu Association Leicester, Gujarat Hindu Society Preston, Hindu Council of Birmingham, Hindu Council of Brent, Hindu Council of Harrow, Hindu Council of the North, Hindu Council UK, Hindu Forum of Britain, Hindu Forum Walsall, ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor, Leicester Hindu Festival Council, Lohana Community UK, Milton Keynes Hindu Association, National Congress of Gujarati Organisations, National Council of Hindu Temples, National Hindu Students Forum, Punjabi Society for British Isles, Sanatan Mandir Leicester, Shree Hindu Community Centre Birmingham, Shree Kutch Leva Patel Community, Shree Prajapati Association UK, Southall Ram Mandir, Vishwa Hindu Mandir Southall, Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK and Vishwakarma Association.

-Ends-

For more information, please contact:

Radha Mohan Dasa M: 07818 815 978 E: Radha.Mohan.BCS@pamho.net

or Vinay Tanna on 07780 707 060 (m)

Editor’s Notes

Community Engagement Resolution

Agreed on 3rd February 2008

At Bhaktivedanta Temple, Watford

We, the undersigned, condemn the Government’s total lack of active engagement with the Hindu community. We have come to the conclusion that only those communities who shout the loudest tend to get immediate attention from this Government. Those who make an active contribution to community cohesion and the economic, cultural and social development of Britain get ignored and feel isolated. The unwarranted killing of Gangotri and the Government indifference to the needs of this peace-loving community is an exhibition of undisguised contempt and utter disregard. We call upon this Government to recognise its responsibilities in engaging equitably with all faith communities and to honour its own commitment to building a cohesive society where all faiths feel included and valued.

Supported by:

Balaji Mandir Birmingham Federation of Brahmin Associations of UK Gujarat Hindu Association Leicester Gujarat Hindu Society Preston Hindu Council of Birmingham Hindu Council of Brent Hindu Council of Harrow Hindu Council of the North Hindu Council UK Hindu Forum of Britain Hindu Forum Walsall ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor Leicester Hindu Festival Council Lohana Community UK Milton Keynes Hindu Association National Congress of Gujarati Organisations National Council of Hindu Temples National Hindu Students Forum Punjabi Society for British Isles Sanatan Mandir Leicester Shree Hindu Community Centre Birmingham Shree Kutch Leva Patel Community Shree Prajapati Association UK Southall Ram Mandir Vishwa Hindu Mandir Southall Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK Vishwakarma Association

Bhaktivedanta Manor:

Manor, in Aldenham near Watford in Hertfordshire, is one of the largest Hindu temples in Europe and possesses 78 acres of land. In 1973 former Beatle George Harrison purchased the property for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). A beautiful shrine was established in August 1973 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who brought the movement to the West in 1965. Bhaktivedanta Manor, renamed in his honour, is now a theological college for fifty trainee priests. It has become the most important Krishna shrine in Britain, and on the festival occasion of Janmashtami, attracts up to 60,000 visitors. The shrine is acclaimed for its high standards of cleanliness and devotion. Amongst its parkland, lake and gardens, cows and bullocks graze peacefully in the pasture. The centre also includes courses and workshop training facilities, a monastic order, a fully equipped theatre room, and a nursery and primary school.

The RSPCA’s killing of Gangotri:

Last month, one of Bhaktivedanta Manor’s sick cows who were being treated by its keepers and professional vets with Reiki, acupuncture and massage was unfairly and forcibly put down by officials from the RSPCA.

The death of Gangotri, a Belgian Blue-Jersey cross, caused outrage among worshippers, who say that they were deceived. “This is shocking and duplicitous behaviour. We have been deceived by those who had given us their word,” Gauri Das, president of the temple, said.

Gauri das said that the RSPCA and police had given assurances that they would not take drastic action and that the temple would be allowed to form a legal case, but that they returned to kill the cow when many devotees were praying.

The issue received considerable media attention both nationally and internationally, and Bhaktivedanta Manor received support from all the main Hindu organisations in Britain, including the Hindu Forum of Britain, Hindu Council UK, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, The National Council of Hindu Temples, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Swaminarayan Mission (BAPS), and the National Hindu Students Union.

Hindu leaders expressed their outrage and frustration, considering the killing to be not only an entirely unnecessary waste of life, but also a symbolic attack on Hinduism itself, a religion of non-violence.

“Never before have I seen such anger and solidarity in our community,” said Rickie Sehgal of the Hindu Forum of Britain. “We want answers and retribution and we will not stop until we get them.”

Raj Joshi, the vice-chairman of The Society of Black Lawyers, angrily commented: “This action is showing complete disregard for the sensitivities of the third largest religion in this country. It is astonishing that the authorities seem to have disregarded all customary tolerance and understanding, and certainly the relevant legislation, in carrying out this unwarranted and inhumane destruction of an animal.”

Over the Christmas period prayer vigils were held and protests were staged outside the RSPCA’s national headquarters in Horsham, West Sussex.

For more information, news and views about the Gangotri issue, please visit: www. justiceforgangotri. org

-Ends-

For more information, please contact:

Radha Mohan Dasa M: 07818 815 978 E: Radha.Mohan.BCS@pamho.net

or Mr Vinay Tanna on 07780 707 060

Editor’s Notes

Community Engagement Resolution

Agreed on 3rd February 2008

At Bhaktivedanta Temple, Watford

We, the undersigned, condemn the Government’s total lack of active engagement with the Hindu community. We have come to the conclusion that only those communities who shout the loudest tend to get immediate attention from this Government. Those who make an active contribution to community cohesion and the economic, cultural and social development of Britain get ignored and feel isolated. The unwarranted killing of Gangotri and the Government indifference to the needs of this peace-loving community is an exhibition of undisguised contempt and utter disregard. We call upon this Government to recognise its responsibilities in engaging equitably with all faith communities and to honour its own commitment to building a cohesive society where all faiths feel included and valued.

Supported by:

Balaji Mandir Birmingham Federation of Brahmin Associations of UK Gujarat Hindu Association Leicester Gujarat Hindu Society Preston Hindu Council of Birmingham Hindu Council of Brent Hindu Council of Harrow Hindu Council of the North Hindu Council UK Hindu Forum of Britain Hindu Forum Walsall ISKCON Bhaktivedanta Manor Leicester Hindu Festival Council Lohana Community UK Milton Keynes Hindu Association National Congress of Gujarati Organisations National Council of Hindu Temples National Hindu Students Forum Punjabi Society for British Isles Sanatan Mandir Leicester Shree Hindu Community Centre Birmingham Shree Kutch Leva Patel Community Shree Prajapati Association UK Southall Ram Mandir Vishwa Hindu Mandir Southall Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK Vishwakarma Association

Bhaktivedanta Manor:

Manor, in Aldenham near Watford in Hertfordshire, is one of the largest Hindu temples in Europe and possesses 78 acres of land. In 1973 former Beatle George Harrison purchased the property for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). A beautiful shrine was established in August 1973 by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who brought the movement to the West in 1965. Bhaktivedanta Manor, renamed in his honour, is now a theological college for fifty trainee priests. It has become the most important Krishna shrine in Britain, and on the festival occasion of Janmashtami, attracts up to 60,000 visitors. The shrine is acclaimed for its high standards of cleanliness and devotion. Amongst its parkland, lake and gardens, cows and bullocks graze peacefully in the pasture. The centre also includes courses and workshop training facilities, a monastic order, a fully equipped theatre room, and a nursery and primary school.

The RSPCA’s killing of Gangotri:

Last month, one of Bhaktivedanta Manor’s sick cows who were being treated by its keepers and professional vets with Reiki, acupuncture and massage was unfairly and forcibly put down by officials from the RSPCA.

The death of Gangotri, a Belgian Blue-Jersey cross, caused outrage among worshippers, who say that they were deceived. “This is shocking and duplicitous behaviour. We have been deceived by those who had given us their word,” Gauri Das, president of the temple, said.

Gauri das said that the RSPCA and police had given assurances that they would not take drastic action and that the temple would be allowed to form a legal case, but that they returned to kill the cow when many devotees were praying.

The issue received considerable media attention both nationally and internationally, and Bhaktivedanta Manor received support from all the main Hindu organisations in Britain, including the Hindu Forum of Britain, Hindu Council UK, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, The National Council of Hindu Temples, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Swaminarayan Mission (BAPS), and the National Hindu Students Union.

Hindu leaders expressed their outrage and frustration, considering the killing to be not only an entirely unnecessary waste of life, but also a symbolic attack on Hinduism itself, a religion of non-violence.

“Never before have I seen such anger and solidarity in our community,” said Rickie Sehgal of the Hindu Forum of Britain. “We want answers and retribution and we will not stop until we get them.”

Raj Joshi, the vice-chairman of The Society of Black Lawyers, angrily commented: “This action is showing complete disregard for the sensitivities of the third largest religion in this country. It is astonishing that the authorities seem to have disregarded all customary tolerance and understanding, and certainly the relevant legislation, in carrying out this unwarranted and inhumane destruction of an animal.”

Over the Christmas period prayer vigils were held and protests were staged outside the RSPCA’s national headquarters in Horsham, West Sussex.

For more information, news and views about the Gangotri issue, please visit: www. justiceforgangotri. org

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