In a historic meeting on the 30th of March, at Avenue House in Finchley, the leaders of national faith organisations of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Zoroastrians met together to facilitate the formation of the Council of Dharmic Faiths UK. Dharma is a word common to all the religions involved and has the meaning of righteous conduct or teaching.

Keeping in view the aim of the Council of encouraging friendship, goodwill, respect, equality, understanding  between Dharmic Faiths, developed in India, namely Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism ( in association with Zoroastrianism) , on the basis of a shared cultural tradition, the participating faith  leaders and organisations agreed to cooperate in advancing the public knowledge of these Faiths  and their communities in Britain including the understanding of their teachings, traditions and practices.

To facilitate this aim the Council of Dharmic Faiths UK was established for deliberating on the common interests of their communities, organisations, leaders and workers in the UK, creating a united voice for representing these to the authorities, for encouraging educational dialogue, for promotion of good relations with other faiths and communities, and for promoting Dharmic values within their communities and wider public. The members present ratified the governing documents and signed up as the Founder members of the Council. This was followed by an election of the Directors constituting the Executive Board. Those who were elected are, Dr Natubhai Shah as Chair, Anil Bhanot, Bhaisaheb Mohinder Singh, Yann Lovelock and Dorab Mistry as the Vice Chairs, with Arjan Vekaria, Dr Girdhari Bhan and Ramesh Pattni as Directors. Subsequently, at the first Board meeting Ramesh Pattni was appointed as the Secretary and Dorab Mistry as the Treasurer to the Board.

The Council will expand its membership of various different categories including Spiritual Patrons, Patrons, organisational and individual members from professional, academic and business fields.

In the following months, the Council of Dharmic Faiths will organise its official launch, hold its first major Conference and also engage in the educational and religious literacy initiatives. The Dharmic Faiths coming together under this organisation represent more than one and a half million followers in the UK and will be strong voice of these faiths in many areas of civic and governmental engagement. The formation of the Council of Dharmic Faiths takes place at a time when dialogue and social cohesion are being encouraged throughout the UK. Although the faiths have lived side by side in South Asia for so long, this is the first time they have associated in this way.

Natubhai Shah, the newly elected Chair of CoDF, says ‘This is a really exciting and hopeful development. Many of us have

 wished to create such an association but it has taken years of discussion and planning to bring it about. We are all truly

happy that it has happened at last.”

For more information please get in touch with the Chair or Secretary of the Council of Dharmic Faiths;

e-mail: info@dharmicfaiths.org , natubhaishah@aol.com  or rameshpattni@hotmail.com