A Hindu leader in Hounslow has backed a national campaign for Eid and Diwali to be made public holidays in the UK.
More than 120,000 people have already signed an online petition for the major dates in the Muslim and Hindu calendars to be added to the eight existing bank holidays in England and Wales, including Christmas Day and Easter Monday.
Prem Sondhi, vice chairman of the Laxminarayan Temple, a Hindu place of worshipin Neville Close, Hounslow, said he supported the campaign to add the Muslim and Hindu holy days to those Christian festivals which are already recognised with public holidays.
“It’s a great idea. Hundreds of thousands of people already celebrate Eid and Diwali in this country but if they were made public holidays those celebrations would be much greater,” he said.
“It would help a lot of people in Hounslow who currently have to work on those days and I believe it would help increase harmony between different communities.
“If they’re nationally recognised in that way everybody will be aware of these holidays and more people from other religions will choose to celebrate them in the same way that I and other Hindus celebrate Christmas. That would help them to learn about and understand the Hindu and Muslim faiths.”
Hounslow is home to 35,666 Muslims and 26,261 Hindus, according to the 2011 Census, along with 106,660 Christians. The fourth most practised religion in the borough is Sikhism, with 22,749 followers.
Getwestlondon has invited Hounslow Mosque, in Wellington Road South, Hounslow, to respond to the petition but nobody was available to comment.
The petition, created by John Timmis, has already received more than the 100,000 signatures needed to be considered for debate in the House of Commons. It is due to close on August 12 this year.
The petition states: “I believe that given the number of Muslims and Hindus in this country it is only fair that we allow them to have the most important days in their faiths recognised in law.
“By giving them public/bank holidays for these days we would be going some way to help to recognise the importance of these faiths to many within the country.”
There are 2.7 million Muslims, 817,000 Hindus and 423,000 Sikhs living in England and Wales, according to the 2011 Census.