Hindu prisoners in England and Wales will be excused from work on Maha Shivaratri, Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesha Pooja, Vijayadashami and Diwali; according to new guidelines which are effective June one.
National Offender Management Service (NOMS), an executive agency sponsored by the Ministry of Justice of United Kingdom Government, issued a 104-pages Prison Service Instruction (PSI) on April 12 titled “Faith and Pastoral Care for Prisoners” to meet the faith and religious needs of prisoners.
This PSI allows possession/access of following religious artefacts to Hindu prisoners: mala (comprising 108 small beads), statue/image/photograph of god, incense sticks and holder, small bell and Gita. It says that “incense must be available through the Prison Facilities List” for prisoners registered as Hindu.
It also states: “In the Hindu tradition, Prasad is an important part of communal worship. In the prison context, it has been agreed that the Prasad should be provided in house and can consist of fruit, dried fruit or nuts”.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commending the NOMS efforts to meet the religious needs of Hindu prisoners, urged NOMS to include at least five more Hindu festivals—Holi, Ram Navmi, Hanuman Jayanti, Makar Sankranti, Yugadi—on the list when Hindu prisoners should be excused from work, in addition to six already granted.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also pointed out the need of provision of more scriptures (besides Gita) to Hindu prisoners; including Ramayana, Vedas, Upanishads, Mahabharata, Puranas, etc.
Rajan Zed further urged the need of provision of more religious artefacts to Hindu prisoners (in addition to the ones already allowed); like Om symbol, container with kumkum powder, water container and spoon, and puja tray to hold all artefacts.
NOMS is responsible for the running of prison and probation services within England and Wales. Michael Spurr is the NOMS Chief Executive.