London, Dec 7 (PTI) Britain’s King Charles III has officially inaugurated the new Guru Nanak Gurdwara and interacted with the volunteers who prepare the ‘langar’ and work within the local community during his first tour as monarch of Luton in Bedfordshire, eastern England.
The 74-year-old King toured the gurdwara’s kitchen on Tuesday and was shown where hot vegetarian meals are prepared daily and was also briefed on the work coordinated with a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic during the pandemic. He also sat together with community leaders in the Diwaan Hall of the gurdwara to hear the ‘kirtan’ (devotional song) and ‘hukamnama’ from the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’.
“At the newly built Guru Nanak Gurdwara, His Majesty met volunteers who run the Luton Sikh Soup Kitchen Stand. The kitchen provides vegetarian hot meals seven days a week, 365 days a year at the Gurdwara,” Buckingham Palace said.
“During the pandemic, the Gurdwara ran a pop-up COVID vaccine clinic, which was one of the first of its kind in the UK. The Gurdwara also encouraged other places of worship to tackle misinformation regarding vaccine hesitancy,” it said.
Indian-origin Professor Gurch Randhawa, a member of the local Sikh congregation and Director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire who greeted the King at the gurdwara, described the visit as “hugely auspicious”.
“His Majesty the King Charles III, respecting Sikhism, entered and exited Diwaan Hall with kirtan playing live, sat down and listened to the hukamnama from ‘Guru Granth Sahib Ji’,” said Randhawa.
“He met our humble volunteers who cook 500 meals per day during the week, and 1,000 meals per day during weekends, our healthcare volunteers who ran pop up COVID vaccine clinics, our Luton Sikh Soup Kitchen volunteers who serve 150 meals outside Luton Town Hall every Sunday – all of these services are accessed by all faith and ethnic communities.
“The king also met children who are learning kirtan and heard them play a Shabad. All in all, a joyous occasion which I was honoured to host,” he said.
While on the royal tour of Luton, the King also took a ride on the city’s Direct Air-Rail Transit (DART) service.
“The DART is an energy-efficient, electric cable car that will transport train arrivals at Luton Parkway to the airport, reducing carbon emissions by 70 per cent…the King met staff and apprentices who work on the DART, before taking the short four-minute ride to the airport,” Buckingham Palace said.
There was also an egg throwing incident in the area at the start of the royal tour when Charles was on a walkabout of Luton town centre. The monarch was briefly steered away from crowds by his security staff before continuing the tour. Bedfordshire Police said a man in his 20s has since been detained and is in custody. PTI AK SCY SCY
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