An Indian-origin family had a taste of the strict code followed and enforced by local councils. The council in Leicester has imposed an enforcement order on Vinod and Vinita Patel, who host the 10-day Ganesh festival every year from installing a statue of Lord Ganesh in their garden. They have been asked to apply for a planning permission for using their house as a place for worship.
This has come as a shock. The Patels had been in the past years importing a 5ft high statue from India and installing it in their garden. Others from the Hindu community used to come there to pray during the 10-day long Ganesh Utsav, which, this year, starts on August 30. The community fears that the application would in all likelihood be refused.
There are further complications. Permission would also be required for car parking and hours between which the puja could be performed. Council sources said that the order for seeking permission was issued because of many complaints from the neighbourhood that the Patels' semi-detached house was being used for religious festivities. The Council, it is said, received in total over two dozen letters objecting to the holding of the Utsav. The letters claimed that hundreds attended the festivities that led to a lot of disturbance and made it difficult or residents to park their cars. Such complaints are not unusual.
The trustees of the world famous Swaminarayan temple in Neasden in north London, initially, faced a lot of problems because of complaints from residents on the street leading to the temple. They were, they said, subjected to noise pollution and the large number of cars driving down the street caused environmental pollution. It took some time to resolve the issue.
Similarly, the Bhaktivendata Hare Ram Hare Krishna temple near a village in the suburbs of Wartford, faced litigation from its residents. Ultimately, the worshippers and followers of Hare Ram Hare Krishna movement raised funds to get a bypass built for going to the temple without passing through the village.
The Patels have countered with a signature campaign. A petition signed by the community members demanding that the festivities must be allowed is to be submitted to the Council. Leicester has a large population of Gujaratis who have contributed immensely to the development of the city. The council may give permission after limiting hours for the puja and the number of cars that may be parked near the house of the Patels.