Thames Valley Police and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service honoured in Hindu festival
Emergency workers have been honoured as part of an annual Hindu festival, writes Declan Bowen.
Volunteers from Bharti Shakha Newbury celebrated the festival of Raksha Bandhan with members of Thames Valley Police and the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The festival is part of national campaign that HSS UK - Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (for boys) and Hindu Sevika Samiti (for girls) - began celebrating a decade ago.
Celebrations included first-hand experience with the service equipment and sweets being distributed in a traditional way.
A group of 20 people, including 12 children, visited the fire service at the end of August, tying Rakhis – colourful sacred thread that will bring success, peace, and good health to the recipient throughout the year – to the firefighters.
Last week more than 30 volunteers visited Newbury Police Station to continue the celebrations, which this year have the theme ‘protect our protectors’.
Volunteers were shown the different equipment, children were allowed to go inside the cage in the van and then Rakhis were tied to the police officers, who then handed out goody bags to the children.
Amit Joshi, the public relation office bearer said: “HSS celebrates this festival, which is integral to Hindus, because the concepts are beyond religious beliefs and more important than ever.
“In broadening the concept of Raksha Bandhan we want to highlight that everybody should value and protect our protectors.
“In the last few years, when clapping our hospital heroes, society acknowledged their importance, but the HSS campaign around Raksha Bandhan has been taking place for more than a decade.
“We have tied Rakhis to a variety of people and emergency workers such as firefighters, the police and social workers who serve and protect the lives of citizens like us.
“This year, again we extended the ethos of this festival by tying this Rakhi to fire services and police officers in Newbury to thank them for all that they do for those in need.
“In turn, we’ll be taking a vow to try to serve the community and protect those we tie a Rakhi on by learning from them and honoring all the immense contributions made, to make our lives safer.”
Both firefighters and police officers said it had been a unique festival that was new to them, but one that “reminded everyone of the true spirit of service and sacrifice for the welfare of the society we live in”.
The Hindu festival has traditionally been described as marking the mutual protection, respect, and affection between brothers and sisters with Raksha meaning protection and Bandhan meaning bond.