Band of protection
I was decorated at the weekend.
Not with a medal or some state recognised award but at the Hindu Temple in Swindon.
The Chief Constable and I were invited to attend the Raksha Bandhan festival at the end of last week.
The temple was established about four years ago and I have had the opportunity to visit regularly in that time. Just a month ago I attended the ceremony of Murthi Sthapana Mahotsave at which the decoration of the temple was consecrated.
The ceremony of Raksha Bandhan is the bonding or "tying the knot of protection" - Raksha means protection and Bandhan means to tie.
The principle guests were from our armed forces and the emergency services. A team from the forces and led by an admiral had been attending ceremonies around the country and the visit to Swindon was near the end of a busy week.
Hinduism is the fourth largest religion in the UK and in the last census around 1.5% of our population followed the faith. One of the principles of British policing, laid down by Sir Robert Peel, was that the "public are the police and police the public." At Wiltshire Police we continue to strive to ensure that our Force mirrors the population of the county and I was pleased to see members of the Community Policing Teams at the event.
What struck me, as members of the community tied Rakhi around our wrists, was the similarity of message. Here was a community recognising the "band of protection" given by the armed forces and everyday service personnel. It made me think what other faith groups recognise this band of respect in such a way, with such ceremony and community recognition?
It was a recognition that our protectors are members of the same communities as those they are paid to protect - a message that should be shared more widely.
Published on Tuesday 13 August 2019.