MEMBERS of a Swindon Hindu group celebrated an annual religious festival with community leaders.

The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Sevika Samiti marked Raksha Bandhan, which celebrates the duty of care and the obligation to serve those in need. 

Members say the value of community spirit and seeing society as one big family has proved necessary now more than ever. 

They showed their gratitude for the support and care that all key community leaders and armed forces services personnel have provided to keep communities safe.

A Rakhi, a cotton thread that symbolises the universal connection to serve and protect each other, and a greeting card were presented to Swindon mayor Coun Garry Perkins, council leader David Renard, MP Robert Buckland and members of the armed forces.

The volunteers explained: “In broadening the concept, the festival celebrates those values we know to be exemplified by our community leaders, armed forces and emergency services personnel. People who have stepped out each and every day with the sole intent to serve and protect the lives of citizens. 

"This year, like every year before it, the work of our community leader and armed forces stands out as beacons of hope for us all, for the good in our societies, and as role models for our generations to follow.”

Mayor Perkins said: “Wishing you a very Happy Raksha Bandhan. What’s behind this is so important in life. If you go in life, you must share, we should also help other people and if we don’t help, we can’t expect others to help us. ”

Coun Renard added:“I am delighted to receive the Raksha Bandhan which is a ceremony held every year in Hindu culture to join the band of friendship, respect and responsibilities between the different groups, people and cultures. 

“I am feeling really privileged to receive this band and greeting card and liked to thank each and everyone in the Hindu community for everything that they are doing for the community.”

Mr Buckland said: “My very best wishes to Swindon Balagokulam and a very happy Raksha Bandhan. I've got my Rakhi on and it’s a symbol of that bond of togetherness that we support each other and work to help each other and how that common bond of trust and self-help.

“At this time of Covid, it has been so important here in Swindon that we as a community have come together and we have done it brilliantly and I would like to thank everybody in the community for their hard work at this time to look after those who couldn’t help themselves. 

“It’s an honour to represent Swindon and it’s a pleasure to wish everybody my best wishes and a very very happy festival.”