When Rishi Met Rishi
April 26, 2024

When Rishi Met Rishi

Two Rishis from Southampton at No. 10 – that must be an historical first!
Attending the Vaisākhī celebrations at Downing Street last week was a truly special experience. Vaisākhī marks the harvest period in India, with a particular day within it celebrated by Sikhs as the anniversary of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh’s creation of the Khālsā army in 1699. I was pleasantly surprised when, just a few days earlier, I received an email from Downing Street inviting me to the event, attributed to my role as Head of Sanskrit at St James Senior Boys’ School.
Twenty months ago, my brother and I had the opportunity to meet PM Rishi Sunak, where we informed him of our shared roots in Southampton and the significant role the local mandir (Hindu temple) played in the upbringing of all three of us.
So amidst the hustle of the Vaisākhī event, I managed to remind him of our previous meeting, and to my delight, he remembered. As the Downing Street celebration coincided with the auspicious occasion of Rāma navamī, the Hindu festival celebrating the birthday of Śrī Rāma, I felt it fitting to gift his young daughters, Krishna and Anoushka Sunak, a copy of my published rendition of the Rāmāyaṇa (the story of Rāma) for children.
It was truly a memorable occasion.
Disclaimer: Some photos under private copyright and others under CC BY 2.0 DEED license from Number 10:
Dr Rishi Handa