Fact Check: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Did NOT Perform Hindu Ceremony Outside 10 Downing Street Before Assuming Office

Fact Check

  • by: Courtney Kealy
Fact Check: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Did NOT Perform Hindu Ceremony Outside 10 Downing Street Before Assuming Office Old Footage

Does a social-media video of Rishi Sunak lighting candles on a doorstep show the United Kingdom's new prime minister performing a Hindu ceremony before assuming office? No, that's not true: This video dates from November 12, 2020, and can be viewed here on Getty Images. The video shows Sunak, then chancellor of the exchequer, lighting candles ahead of the Hindu religious holiday of Diwali outside of his then-official residence at 11 Downing Street in London. The prime minister's official residence is at 10 Downing Street.

The claim about Sunak appeared in a tweet (archived here) published on Twitter on November 3, 2022, under the title "UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak performing Hindu ceremony before assuming office. #UK #RishiSunak #Hindu." A banner above the tweet says :

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak performing Hindu ceremony before assuming office

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of this fact check's writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Mon Nov 7 18:46:24 2022 UTC)

Forty-two-year-old Sunak is the United Kingdom's first prime minister of Indian heritage and Hindu faith, and the first person of color to serve in the role.

A practicing Hindu, Sunak took his oath of office as chancellor of the exchequer in February 2020 while holding a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a scripture central to Hinduism. In November 2020, he lit candles for Diwali, a "festival of lights," outside his official residence at 11 Downing Street.

The lighting of lamps for this five-day holiday, observed by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, marks "the triumph of light over darkness, goodness over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair," according to The Hindustan Times.

This year, the most important day of Diwali was celebrated on October 24, 2022. On the same day, the Conservative Party, which holds the majority of seats in the British parliament, chose Sunak to replace outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Sunak became prime minister on October 25, 2022. The following day, he attended a Diwali reception inside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence, but official photos of him lighting Diwali candles outside this residence have not emerged.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks related to British prime ministers can be seen here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Courtney Kealy

Courtney Kealy is a writer and fact-checker at Lead Stories. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, she specializes in national and foreign affairs with more than two decades experience in the Middle East. Her work has appeared on FOX News, AlJazeera America, ABC News, the New York Times, Marie Claire, Time and Newsweek.

Read more about or contact Courtney Kealy

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion