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Faith Not Fear

1663. Sri Goberdhan
1664. Rishtee Kowlessur

Sri Goberdhan and Rishtee Kowlessur, from London, founded the ‘Faith Not Fear’ programme at Dharma Mandir, one of London’s Hindu temples, where they lead devotees in virtual worship sessions, inspirational seminars and acts of kindness in the community.

Sri Goberdhan and Rishtee Kowlessur

Sri and Rishtee were inspired to set up the programme at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak to help keep the community connected during lockdown. They have now hosted around 200 sessions online, sharing key teachings from many professionals including doctors, professors and inspirational spiritual leaders from around the world to talk on faith but also provide vital advice on how to maintain physical and mental wellbeing in lockdown.

In a personal letter to Sri, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“I want to thank you and Rishtee for your wonderful work at Dharma Mandir Temple guiding people through the challenges of lockdown.

“With your virtual seminars on faith, health and wellbeing, you have lifted the spirits of worshippers and played a vital role in tackling loneliness. With the power of technology, you ensured that hundreds of people could access vital advice from medical professionals to keep them safe and well.”

In a personal letter to Rishtee, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

“I was inspired to hear about everything you have been doing over the last year – from inspirational seminars, to online worship and acts of kindness. Alongside Sri, you have been true Points of Light in your community.”

Sri said:

“Words cannot even begin to describe how honoured I am to have received this recognition. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child and I am so grateful to my “village” who have worked to make me an individual worthy of this award. From my wonderful parents and grandparents and my extended family, as well as the wider community especially that of Dharma Mandir including my brothers and sisters of the Dharma Youth. Thanks to foundations that they have built and inspiration they have provided, wonderful things can happen. And I cannot possibly accept this without a personal thank you to my partner in crime, my Nana, Guruji Vyas Sharma, founder of Dharma Mandir – when there is only one set of footprints, it is because I am carefully following yours.”

Rishtee said:

“This nomination was very much unexpected, to receive this recognition, I can only truly have heartful gratitude to all the amazing volunteers we have at Dharma Mandir. It has touched my heart.

“I accept the Points of Light Award on behalf of ALL the volunteers, devotees & the whole community who continuously support us, and encourage us to do what we do as a team, without all of them, we would not be able to bring this amazing community together.

“Our parents, elders and the Dharma Youth have been so closely involved in growing this wonderful platform that we have; that I truly see them as Gods disguised in human bodies.

“I am very, very proud to be part of such an incredible team of volunteers.

“A special thank you to Guruji Vyas Sharma & Mataji (Founders of Dharma Mandir) who leads us and encourages all the volunteers to see beyond the wall and to be a ‘light’ to those that may need a helping hand in any way possible and to also my parents & Ashwin for their constant encouragement, love and support.

“Thank you Prime Minister for this award.”

Photo credit for Rishtee (right): Dharma Mandir

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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