Sunday 18 December 2011

Hindu Council intervene in Wembley Central by-election

Leaflet distributed in Wembley Central today
In what is likely to be controversial  move the influential Hindu Council of Brent has intervened in the Wembley Central by-election. I have blogged here LINK on the Council's removal of grants for the celebration of Navratri and other festivals and this is the main subject of the Hindu Council's leaflet which has been distributed to households in the Ealing Road area.

After accusing Brent Council of trying to appease the 5,000 'Save Our Navratri' petitioners with the 'token gesture' of a fireworks display this year, that was combined with bonfire night, they go on to say:
However from 2012 onwards Labour Councillors in Brent decided to SCRAP the support for Navratri and a number of other community Festivals.

Whilst stopping the Grant, the money would only go towards Brent Council's budget and not for our festivals and hence deprive Hindu Communities in Brent.
The leaflet goes on to state:
We really need to look at the Political Parties that supported us and will support us for the future.
And finishes:
 Ask the candidates for their views on Navratri Grant for 2012 and use your democratic vote accordingly.
The Ealing Road area of the Wembley Central ward has a very high Hindu population and the intervention, particularly given the 5,000 signatures and the number of Hindu Council affiliated organisations in the area, could make a significant impact.

On this blog and in the Green Party's magazine Green World I have questioned the Council's narrow definition of the Equalities Act which they used justify cutting the festival grants and also their intention to organise a hodgepodge 'Festivals Of Brent' event that would combine different festivals:
The bundling together of different religious and cultural festivals all on one day, at a time when they weren't actually being celebrated, seemed crude and insulting. The Hindu Council told the council that the Navratri Festival aimed to improve community relations, as it was open to all. (Community spirit, Green World Autumn 2011)
I went on:
 ...despite my own lack of belief, I see the positive role played by local faith/cultural communities. Rather than the extreme individualism of post-Thatcher neo-liberalism they provide a form of social solidarity that provides strong support in adversity. This has been evident in fund-raising for victims of earthquakes, tsunami and famine and was most evident recently when the community came together after the death of a Palestinian mother and her five children in a house fire.
It is worth noting that much of the Navratri grant came back to Brent Council in a roundabout way as it was used to pay local schools for the hire of halls over the festival period  and thus augmented the schools' budgets.

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