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RFA Wave Ruler hosts Hindu religious ceremony

RFA Wave Ruler helps in Hindu ceremony
13 May 2016
Members of the British Hindu community gathered aboard a Naval Service ship for an historic ceremony at sea. Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Ruler hosted members of the Armed Forces Hindu Network and some of the congregation from a Hindu temple in Birmingham for the immersion of an idol – the first time such a ceremony has taken place aboard a Naval Service vessel.

Representatives of Hindu communities throughout England also attended the ceremony, which saw a 5ft 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.

This is a unique and historic occasion and we are so grateful to the Naval Service for this wonderful ceremony.

Acharya Krishan Kant Attri ji

Before embarking on the Fast Fleet Tanker at Portland, members of the Hindu community held a fire service in the pouring rain on the dockside. 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. The sun broke through the grey clouds as the idol was released into the sea. 

"This is a unique and historic occasion and we are so grateful to the Naval Service for this wonderful ceremony," said Acharya Krishan Kant Attri ji. 

Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Manish Tayal, chair of the Armed Forces Hindu Network, who organised the event, 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." 

Lord Narayana is one of the many names of Vishnu, the Preserver or Overseer within the Hindu Trinity, who supports the entire universe. At times of troubles, Narayana is believed to manifest on Earth to destroy evil and uphold virtue. 

Varsha Mistry, chair of the Metropolitan Police Hindu Association, said: "I wasn't sure what to expect but it is so nice that the Royal Navy has honoured our values and majestically conducted this ceremony. Hat's off to the Royal Navy." 

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."

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