With 2018 marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.
The Hindu Cultural Society is proud to have volunteers at the Hindu Temple on Leeds Road and at the Deepawali Fund raiser, Cedar Court hotel, handing out Special Red Khadi Poppies to raise awareness in respect of all the Indian men and women who served in the First World War.
As part of the Thank You movement The British Legion are leading this year to pay tribute to the First World War generation, they have thanked and recognised the British Indian Army for its service and contribution by handing out red poppies made of khadi at Diwali time across England.
These limited-edition, hand-made poppies are identical to the Legion red poppy in all ways, except that the petals are made of khadi, a hand spun cotton cloth popularised by Mahatma Gandhi on his spinning wheel.
It is not widely known or acknowledged in history that when the First World War broke out, pre-partition India answered the call for help with volunteers from far and wide. They made a huge sacrifice to give us the freedom in the world we live in today. Their descendant communities now make up a valued part of life in the UK.
Almost 1.5m Muslim, Sikh and Hindu men volunteered with the Indian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. It was the largest British Empire Armed Force beside the British Army itself. Indian troops were awarded over 13,000 medals for gallantry during the war, including 11 Victoria Crosses.
The British India supported the war effort by providing 3.7m tonnes of supplies, 40 field ambulances, 2,327 doctors and 720 nursing orderlies, 6 clearing hospitals, 35 stationary hospitals, and 18 general hospitals, and jute for sandbags.
The Legion is recognising and honouring India’s vital contribution to the First World War and by wearing the poppy made of khadi it is an important symbolic way to do this. Together the Legion and Indian communities can ensure that Remembrance is understood and available to all, and handed to the next generation to realise and remember the sacrifices made.
Our identity is our destiny – and so the current generation of Asians should know that their fathers and grandfathers didn’t just come to Britain as immigrants. Our ancestors fought for this country and its freedom and democracy – even though they lived in the British colony at the time. We therefore have as much right and stake here in Britain as anyone else.
British Asians should be proud of the role that India played in shaping the destiny of England and the world.”