Royal Navy sailors of all faiths and backgrounds gathered in the Naval Command Headquarters (NCHQ) in Portsmouth to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, which marks the Hindu New Year.
Prayers, the lighting of diyas (candles), and traditional Hindu dancing marked the event, which ended with a traditional communal meal with guests from the local Hindu communities and mandirs (temples) from Portsmouth and Birmingham.
Visiting students from Birmingham took the opportunity to see the Royal Navy past and present with a trip to the warship HMS Westminster, a Type 23 frigate, and the Navy's historic flagship HMS Victory.
The Hindu Chaplain to the Forces, Acharya Krishan Kant Attri MBE, said: “Through my work with Hindu communities and the Armed Forces, I thought this would be a great opportunity to 'mythbust' young people's ideas about the Royal Navy, and let them hear about the reality of life in the Navy from serving Hindu personnel.”
After their tour of the ships, the students helped transform the atrium at NCHQ with a display of lights and candles before the Diwali festival.
Armed Forces Hindu Network Champion, Rear Admiral Graeme Mackay, said: “By observing religious festivals and holy days that our diverse military community celebrates, I hope our Armed Forces Personnel feel that they can bring their whole selves to work and know that they are supported.
“As their champion, I am particularly proud of the Hindu sailors, soldiers, airmen who defend our nation's interests at home and abroad.
“I recognise the benefits that their service brings to the workplace and on operations, and the Ministry of Defence strives to ensure all our policies are inclusive.
“I am delighted that the young Hindus have had a chance to see what the Royal Navy does and hear first-hand about our recent humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts after the Caribbean hurricanes.
“I am also pleased that they have heard first-hand from our Hindu sailors about the successful careers they have had in a wide-range of fields from chefs and logisticians to medics and lawyers.
“May I wish everyone 'Happy Diwali!’”