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Leaders celebrate Diwali

clegg_brown_cameronThe leaders of the three main political parties in the UK are expected to attend a Diwali celebration at the House of Commons on Thursday

The event which celebrates one of the most important holy days for Hindus, will feature Indian dances.

It remains to be seen whether the ‘festival of light’ will be able to dispel, even temporarily, the gloom of the continuing expenses row in the corridors of power.

The festival has been celebrated at the House of Commons each year since 2002.

The group follows the teachings of Sahajanand Swami, also known as Lord Swaminarayan, a central figure in modern day Hinduism, who began a seven-year pilgrimage across India in 1792. He was regarded as an incarnation of god by his followers.

Mr Lakhani said: ‘Parliament is committed to helping build a thriving democracy and to this end, this all-inclusive Hindu Festival was planned.

‘Hinduism offers a tremendous source and wealth of knowledge to help achieve answers to modern day challenges.’

More than 100 Parliamentarians and cabinet secretaries are expected to attend, along with diplomats, key businessmen and community leaders.

Asian MPs from across the country expected to attend, including Ashok Kumar, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland; Khalid Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Perry Barr; Shahid Malik, MP for Dewsbury; Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting; and Shailesh Vara, MP for North-west Cambridgeshire.

Also among the guests at the Diwali celebration will be Mahant Swami Dharmanandandasji, head priest of the Swaminarayan Temple, in Bhuj, India, that was destroyed in an earthquake in 2001.

He is expected to announce details of the opening of a new temple in the region.

The temple, which took more than 50 million man hours to build, is due to open in May 2010, and an estimated 10,000 people from the UK are expected to attend.

The original temple was built more than 185 years ago by Lord Swaminarayan.

Lalji Vekaria, one of the UK co-ordinators said: ‘This is history being written. My father or grandfathers have not witnessed anything like this before and I doubt generations to come ever will. Rebuilding of one of Lord Swaminarayan’s original temples has never happened before and may not happen again.’

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