on Feb. 6, 2008
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 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 inquiry. 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 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 acknowledgment. If this had been some other community, the Government would have rushed to find a solution. Just because Hindus are quiet, 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 judgmental letters like these?”
“Representatives from scores of Hindu organizations 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.