|Hindu Council UK|
|Registered Office: 126-128 Uxbridge Road, London, W13 8QS|
|Phone: 020 8840 8844||Fax: 020 8840 8899||Email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Company No: 3364710||Charity No: 1067682|
To: All Temple Trustees, Executive Committee Members, and Devotees
Date: 5 June 2013
My Namaste to All
There are a couple of important issues which you may well be aware of but I thought it important to bring to your attention, please.
By now you are probably aware that ‘Caste’ has been included in the Equality legislation in opposition to our lobbying to not include it on the grounds that it will actually enforce caste identities which we are now losing in the UK and thus bring back its rigidities in its corrupt form, not least there may well be some mischievous cases which potentially use the ‘Caste’ clause to create divisions in our Hindu society. Anyway we are where we are now. But suffices to say that the Government is seeking to extend a period of ‘consultation‘ for up to 2 years before this Caste clause actually comes into effect for the purposes of court cases. It is in this regard that our Chairman Umesh Sharma ji has written to you and I attach his letter to ask you to write as many letters as possible to your local MP in the format attached, please. The MP will then have to respect the constituent wishes and thus may also begin to ask for a longer consultation period and in particular he may sign an Early Day Motion, EDM, in support of that.
Please see Umesh ji’s letter and ask your devotees if they can send as many letters as possible to their local MP, and indeed one from your Temple signed by yourselves which will carry a greater weight. It might be better for you to photocopy the forms, get them signed by the Devotees and send them to the MP along with a covering letter from the Temple, please.
Another controversial bill is passing through parliament in a much rushed manner and it would seem that it will become law.
Hindu scripture is silent on Gay rights but what it does not do is to discriminate against Gays or as you know any human. Gays are entitled to worship as anyone else and indeed have their own Isht-Devi, Deity.
Further if our scripture is silent on Gays and we do not discriminate against them then equally there is no eulogy to bless a Gay marriage. The Hindu marriage is between a boy and a girl only, not between same sex couples. This brings me to the point you as Temple guardians now will need to consider, which is whether to allow a same sex marriage to take place at your temple or not. I understand that one temple in the Greater London area has already issued a statement to say that they will allow same sex marriages but I have talked to several others who would not, many still have not really thought about it yet.
May I suggest please that you do discuss this issue among your committee members and if your policy is not to allow a Gay Marriage ceremony at your temple then you need to ‘opt out’ of offering this service, as you are entitled to do so as a ‘faith institution’ within the Act. For the opt-out you need to inform the Civil Servants now, rather than later. This is all the more important for you to consider if you hold a facility to register civil marriages.
However Gay Marriage aside, we cannot deny a ‘blessing’ from Bhagwan, God, if they the same sex couple so wish. A Blessing is really about the freedom to worship which the Hindu Sanatan Dharma champions and I would advise that we must not allow our personal feelings to come between any devotee and their God. Indeed if the temple finds it difficult to perform any such ritual at the premises, and given that you have ‘opted out’ of offering Gay Marriage service if you do that soon now, then even a blessing ceremony you will be able to guide the Gay couple to do it outside the temple at any location of their choosing and so not inside the Temple premises. Of course as Devotees they can never be refused permission to worship at any Temple as indeed they have been doing in the past without any conditions.
I am distinguishing a ‘Blessing’ from a formal ‘Marriage’ eulogy, which for Gays does not exist under Hindu scripture but a thanks giving type blessing over a Havan ceremony would be seen to be quite normal in their entitlement to worship freely.
The Gay couple may then ask for a priest. Now once again according to my consultation with the National Council of Hindu Priests UK the most humble priests I have found to be very wary of getting into this area they find so difficult. This is of course a new thing for us all. It is difficult in spite of the arguments for equality. Personally I thought civil partnership gave Gays all the equality rights. As you know I am a practising Chartered Accountant and even for Tax the civil partnership gave Gays equal treatment in Tax as with normal marriage spouse relationship. So this Gay Marriage is more about their being accepted as normal in society, equal to all without any stigma.
There was recently a Gay Hindu priest in the Midlands who conducted normal Hindu marriages but only before people became aware that he was Gay. At a recent discussion on Sankaars in one meeting at a temple one elder suggested to me that if there is a Gay priest he could of course do a same sex marriage ceremony, even at the Gay couple’s home, with a Havan, and perform their vows in front of the sacred fire, and no one would be any the wiser. Such a blessing of a same sex couple’s marriage would have been ordained then by God.
Reverting back to the point of ‘opting out‘, those temples who do not wish to entertain a Gay Marriage ceremony on the grounds that it is not a Hindu Marriage between a male and a female then please either write to us in which case we will forward your letters onwards or directly to the following address:
Head of Faith Engagement
Dept of Communities and Local Government
One Britain One Nation Flags
Finally something more light hearted all the faith places of worship, Temples, Gurdwaras, Churches, Mosques and Synagogues have been requested to ‘fly’ the flag saying, One Britain One Nation on the Union Jack around the time the Royal Baby is expected to be born in July.
I attach their literature and the flag can be bought for Â£35 which temples could order directly from the contact details on the leaflet and fly it at their temple when the Royal Baby is born, offering prayers and good wishes. Please also see their website www.onebritainonenation.com
Anil Bhanot OBE
Hindu Council UK
PS. The Temple that issued a statement about 3 month ago offering same sex marriage service I have been today informed that they have now withdrawn that offer_6th June 2013.
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