Friends groups are thriving in Leicester and Birmingham, raising awareness and funds for the OCHS.
The Leicester Friends continue to host an excellent series of talks. Recent highlights are an interfaith dialogue between the OCHS’s Shaunaka Rishi Das and The Venerable Richard Atkinson, Archdeacon of Leicester; Anuradha Dooney on Free will and Destiny in the Bhagavad-gita; Dr Nick Sutton on Yoga and Hinduism; Sachin Nandha on Quantum Physics and Hinduism; and a new addition to the team, OCHS student Lucien Wong speaking on Hindu Approaches to Pluralism.
One of the year’s biggest events was a Gala Dinner in Leicester on 19 November. This was attended by 150 guests. The event, sponsored by Barclays Bank and compered by the BBC’s Kamlesh Purohit, included a talk by The High Sheriff of Leicester, Resham Singh Sandhu, who spoke on the importance of community and service. Alpesh Patel of Tradermind.com, floored the audience with an intelligent, engaging, entertaining, and inspiring talk. The OCHS’s Nick Sutton responded.
Other Leicester Friends events included a day trip to Oxford which included a tour for fifty, lunch, and cricket at Christchurch Meadows; a one-day course on Hindu origins, philosophy, scriptures and most recently the second Holi-Yatra. Holi Yatra, is a sponsored fourteen-mile walk visiting fourteen Leicester mandirs – each of which gave a warm welcome.
The Leicester Friends stand as a model of a community supporting good education and helping good education nourish the community in return.
Inspired by the work of the Leicester Friends, Nitin and Meena Sodha and Raj and Jyoti Patel are working to replicate the success in Birmingham with similar bi-monthly events bringing people to the educational ethos of the OCHS and helping some of those Friends become regular donors. Recent talks include Anuradha Dooney on Human Rights and Right Humans and Shaunaka Rishi Das on the concepts of tirtha and yatra in Hinduism.
The talks given by the OCHS provide a further opportunity for the Centre to make its expertise available to as wide a section of the community as possible. In the words of Dr Nick Sutton, ‘An important part of the mission of the OCHS is to present a non-partisan understanding of Hindu thought and values to people living and working in all sections of society and these talks offer a venue in which a range of subjects can be discussed and knowledge of Indian religion and philosophy disseminated and debated.’
Our longstanding friend, Harish IK Patel organised a portion of ticket sales from the Gujarati Play ‘Bachu Ne Baatlima Utaaro’ (‘Impossible to Control Bachu’) to be contributed to the OCHS. Harish is one of the earliest founders of the Friends of the OCHS and personifies the vitality of the FOCHS and its importance to the life of the OCHS in terms of making the OCHS financially stable and relevant to the community.