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LONDON: Britain on Thursday unveiled a new commemorative coin to mark Diwali, celebrating the life and legacy of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

The special coin, available in gold and silver, features an image of India's national flower, the lotus, and one of Gandhi's most famous quotes: "My life is my message."

Rishi Sunak, Britain's first Hindu finance minister, called it a "fitting tribute to an influential leader who inspired millions of people around the world".

"As a practising Hindu, I am proud to unveil this coin during Diwali," said Sunak, whose father-in-law, Infosys founder Narayan Murthy, is one of India's richest men.

Gandhi, a figurehead for civil rights movements across the world, led the campaign against British rule in India, helping to secure independence in 1947.

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The £5 coin, which is on sale from Thursday, is part of the Royal Mint's wider Diwali collection, which includes a gold bar depicting the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

Hindus are the third largest religious group in Britain after Christians and Muslims, making up some 1.6 percent of the population.

Most British Hindus are of Indian origin.

Nicola Howell, Chief Customer Officer at the government-owned mint, said it was "delighted to unveil the first official UK coin commemorating the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi.

"The beautiful design builds on the enduring relationship and cultural connections between the UK and India," she added.

Around 10 million coins celebrating Britain's diversity went into circulation in October 2020.

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