A member of the Hindu community in Oxfordshire has said Rishi Sunak becoming Prime Minister is a “matter of joy and pride” for the community.

Mr Sunak became the country’s first Asian Prime Minister on Monday when the only other candidate in the Tory leadership race, Penny Mordaunt, dropped out.

Mr Sunak, who is a practicing Hindu, was born in Southampton to parents of Indian descent who migrated to Britain from East Africa in the 1960s.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak: Oxfordshire's politicians react to the new PM

His father was born in the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya (present-day Kenya) while his mother was born in Tanganyika (which later became part of Tanzania).

Ankit Shukla, vice chair of Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre, felt Mr Sunak’s rise to the top of British politics was particularly significant as it happened on the first day of Diwali – the Hindu festival of light.

“This happening, on the day of Diwali, demonstrates that – hopefully – we are entering into a new era of light and happiness.

“This really demonstrates the strength of what the United Kingdom represents: truly uniting. Not just from a geographic perspective but also by ethnicity, people’s backgrounds and anyone who is able to bring value to the country.   

“Rishi lighting the candle outside was a very happy moment.”

Oxford Mail: The Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre committeeThe Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre committee (Image: Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre)

The 39-year-old, of Great Western Park in Didcot, added he also lit a candle outside his home so he children could feel a connection to the moment, both in a historical and cultural sense.  

“It is a matter of matter of joy and pride for everyone.

“It is truly inspiring for a lot of us and it is aspirational for the younger generation. No matter who you are or what your background is you can rise to the top jobs in the country,” he said.

Oxford Mail: A Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre celebrationA Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre celebration (Image: Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre)

Mr Shukla also noted the significance of Mr Sunak’s first name.

He explained: "In Hinduism, the first name of a person has a lot of meaning and carries a lot importance. It is said that as is your name, so are your attributes and qualities.

“The name Rishi, or the word Rishi, means a Sage or someone who is enlightened and has a lot of wisdom. It could not be more appropriate for someone with Rishi’s name to come into the picture right now and take us through the phase that lies ahead of us.

“We all carry the quality of our names with us. They are not just proper nouns, they have meanings behind them.”

Oxford Mail: Part of a Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre celebrationPart of a Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre celebration (Image: Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre)

Oxford Hindu Temple & Community Centre is a community group which aims to unite the Hindu community in Oxford and wider Oxfordshire. As well as this, the group is working to create a permanent space in the county for the community, as there is currently no such venue.

You can find out more here: oxfordhindutemple.org/


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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