THE WATERS of Weymouth Bay provided the setting for a historic ceremony at sea for the British Hindu community.
The event saw members of the Armed Forces Hindu Network and some of the congregation from a Hindi temple in Birmingham gather on board a Naval Service ship for the immersion of an idol.
The event on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Ruler was the first time such a ceremony had taken place aboard a Naval Service vessel.
Representatives of Hindu communities throughout England also attended the ceremony, which saw a five-foot tall 800kg white marble figure – Lord Narayana – laid to rest off the Dorset coast.
The idol immersion ceremony – known as Murti Visarjan – was requested by members of the Shree Geeta Bhawan Hindu Temple. The idol was damaged and, according to Hindu tradition, should be immersed in free, flowing water where it will not be recovered or used for any further purpose. As Wave Ruler headed out to Weymouth Bay, the visitors gathered on the deck for the ceremony, conducted by the Hindu Chaplain to the Armed Forces Acharya Krishan Kant Attri ji, accompanied by the Birmingham temple’s priest Acharya Dharm Dutt Vashista ji.
Hindus then offered Chrysanthemums and water to the idol before the senior Royal Naval officer present, Commodore Dain Morritt, was asked to smash a coconut on the deck of the ship – the fruit has a deep meaning to the religion as it represents food, water and space.
Six members of Wave Ruler’s crew then carried out the immersion, lifting the ornately decorated idol on a board by crane and gently lowering it over the side.
Acharya Krishan Kant Attri ji said: “This is a unique and historic occasion and we are so grateful to the Naval Service for this wonderful ceremony.”
Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Manish Tayal, chair of the Armed Forces Hindu Network said: “The ceremony honours the relationship between the maritime services and the British Hindu community, part of a long and proud tradition of Hindu contribution to UK maritime defence.”
Commodore Morritt said: “I think this is a piece of history. It is fantastic seeing members of the Hindu community on board.
“The Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary are inclusive organisations.”