Earlier this week Rishi Sunak became the third person to take over the Prime Minister’s office in the United Kingdom within one year. Sunak also became the first Indian-origin person to lead the country. In this backdrop, a video showing the newly appointed ‘Hindu’ Prime Minister of the UK placing diyas (earthen lamps) outside an entrance door is going viral on social media platforms. Those who shared the clip claimed that it showed Sunak performing “religious rituals” before entering 10 Downing Street – British PM’s office and official residence. Newschecker found the claim to be untrue.
Twitter user @ThisIsAfricaTIA shared the viral video with the caption, “The new UK PM performing his spiritual/traditional rituals before entering his new office. We have largely abandoned ours.” The tweet dated October 25, 2022, has amassed over 7,650 retweets and 36.9K likes so far.
Notably, news website Firstpost also carried this tweet in a report stating, “the new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak performed some religious rituals on Tuesday before entering his new office in 10 Downing Street, proudly displaying his Hindu roots…”
Several other Twitter users shared the viral video claiming to show Sunak performing “rituals” before entering the new office.
The video is going viral on Facebook as well claiming to show “Sunak performing religious rituals before entering his new office 10 Downing Street…”
We began our investigation by ascertaining whether Sunak performed any “religious rituals” before entering the British PM residence or not, and looked up keywords “Rishi Sunak,” “lighting diyas,” “religious,” and “10 Downing Street” on Google. However, the search did not yield any relevant result.
Following this, we conducted a Google search for “Rishi Sunak enters 10 Downing Street” which led us to a report by Independent.ie, dated October 25, 2022, titled ‘Rishi Sunak enters 10 Downing Street for the first time as Prime Minister.’
The report carried a video showing Sunak walking into 10 Downing Street for the first time as the UK PM. However, it did not show Sunak performing any religious rituals. Sunak was seen entering the house as usual and greeting people already present inside.
Reports by several news outlets carried visuals of Sunak entering the historic residence for the first time as the UK’s PM, however none of these showed him lighting the diyas at entrance as seen in the viral video. Such reports can be seen here, here and here.
Additionally, we found the texture of the wall next to the entrance gate seen in the viral video to be different from the visuals of 10 Downing Street during Sunak’s entry.
We could thus conclude that the viral video does Sunak performing “religious rituals” before entering 10 Downing Street.
We continued our investigation to know more about the viral footage showing the new UK PM lighting diyas and conducted a keyword search for “Rishi Sunak lighting diyas” on Google which led us to a report by NDTV, dated November 13, 2020, titled ‘Watch: Rishi Sunak Lights Diya On Downing Street In London Ahead Of Diwali.’ Displaying a still from the viral video, the report stated, “UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak was seen lighting diya (earthen lamps) outside Number 11 in Downing Street, his official residence in London, ahead of the festival of Diwali.”
The report also carried a tweet by the Indians in London Group (@IIL2004), dated November 13, 2020, captioned, “Chancellor of Exchequer Rt. Honourable @RishiSunak for the 1st time in British History Lit Diwali Diya at 11 Downing Street . Proud moment for #BritishHindus and #BritishIndians .It’s Happy Diwali Indeed Let the festivities begin.”
Following this, we conducted a keyword search for “Rishi Sunak,”diyas, & “11 Downing Street” and set the time frame of search from November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020. This threw up several reports on Sunak’s Diwali celebrations, carrying visuals from the viral video. Such reports can be seen here, here and here.
Furthermore, in a tweet dated November 14, 2020, Sunak shared a clip from his interview on Diwali celebrations. Some visuals from the viral video can be seen interspersed in the same.
Viral post claiming to show Rishi Sunak performing “religious rituals” before entering 10 Downing Street is false. The video is from 2020 and shows Sunak putting diyas and rangoli outside 11 Downing Street.
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