The 40-year-old Indian-origin finance minister, who is married to Akshata Murthy — the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy, has spoken about being a “proud Hindu” over the years.
His celebratory gesture on Fridaynight marks a first for Downing Street, which annually sees the UK Prime Minister host a Deepavali gathering and an Annakut, or spread of festive food, from London’s Swaminarayan Mandir next door at No. 10.
Sunak’s message this Deepavali was for British Hindus to follow the lockdown rules and refrain from the usual tradition of getting together with friends and family.
“I know how difficult it is not to be able to see each other,” Sunak said.
“Just a couple more weeks and we are going to get through this and it’s going to be so much better on the other side. We will have lots of happy times afterwards. But, to keep everyone safe right now, just follow the rules,” he said.
Lockdown restrictions in England and varying degrees of restrictions across most parts of the United Kingdom have meant that temples and gurdwaras are turning more towards virtual festivities this year.
“Faith is important to me, I’m a practising Hindu, I pray with my kids, visit the temple when I can— at the moment rather less so because I’m busy,” Sunak said.
“For us as Hindus, Deepavali is special, and it’s going to be difficult this year. But we’ve got Zoom, we’ve got the phone, and most importantly, we’ve got each other. Whether you can see someone or not the bond of family, that bond of love is always going to be there. And it will be there on December 3 as well,” he said, in reference to England’s current strict stay-at-home lockdown coming to an end on December 2.