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'Govardhan Brown' is British PM

world Updated: Nov 16, 2007 01:08 IST

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Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown has become an honorary Hindu, taking the name Govardhan Brown, during a ceremony to mark the Diwali festival, an umbrella organisation for British Hindus said on Thursday.

Brown, wearing marigold garlands around his neck and a bright vermilion teeka on his forehead, received the honour at the Hindu Forum of Britain's annual event to celebrate the faith's festival of light at parliament on Wednesday.

Hindu Forum of Britain general secretary Ramesh Kallidai introduced the prime minister to guests, including prominent Indian businessmen and politicans, as "Shri Govardhan Brown".

He told Brown, who is a Scottish Presbyterian, "Govardhan" had a "sacred and auspicious" meaning in Sanskrit as a hill in paradise.

Diwali is rapidly becoming a national festival in Britain, where Indians make up the largest proportion of people of south Asian origin; in the east central English city of Leicester, 25.7 percent of the population is Indian.

Hindus are the second largest non-Christian religious group in the country.