Rishi Sunak becoming Britain's prime minister is a “Barak Obama moment” for people of Indian descent in the UK, the president of the Hindu temple in the UK co-founded by Sunak’s grandparents in 1971 told CNN.
“It's a proud moment for us, definitely. Someone who belongs to the temple taking the highest post in the country as the prime minister of the United Kingdom,” Sanjay Chandarana, the president of the Vedic Society Hindu Temple in Southampton, told CNN.
“It’s a Barack Obama moment for us. A South Asian, Indian, origin prime minister in the UK. Everyone here is so thrilled to hear that news,” he added.
Rishi Sunak is set to become the first Hindu and person of color to become UK's prime minister. Sunak has spoken publicly about his British Indian heritage, telling the Business Standard in a 2015 interview that he ticks British Indian on the census.
"I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my religious and cultural heritage is Indian, my wife is Indian. I am open about being a Hindu,” Sunak told Business Standard.
The fireworks program at the temple to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali on Monday has been extended to 20 minutes from initial 12 to 15 minutes to mark Sunak's win.
“We have a festival within the festival going on at the moment,” Chandarana, the temple president, said.
He said that Sunak is a frequent visitor to the temple and he was there last in July, a few days before he resigned from the post of the Chancellor.
After it was announced that Sunak had won the race to be the Conservative Party leader, the main priest of the temple held a “special prayer” for Sunak.
The temple's president says he is certain that Sunak will visit the temple soon.
“His parents and relatives also come quite often. I’m looking at his aunt in front of me leaving the temple,” he chuckled.
Sunak’s grandparents were born in India and his parents emigrated to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s.