PM Narendra Modi, Prince Charles hail 25 years of iconic London temple
Narendra Modi had visited the iconic temple when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.Updated: Aug 21, 2020, 00:33 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prince Charles on Thursday joined British MPs, charity organisations and others to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Hindu temple in the western hemisphere: the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London, which has become a centre of community events, worship and festivals over the years.
Inaugurated on August 20, 1995, the temple in Neasden in the borough of Brent has been visited by several world leaders, including former US President Jimmy Carter. Modi visited the temple when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.
Modi tweeted: “Neasden Temple marks its silver jubilee. The Temple has been at the forefront of many community service initiatives. It has brought people together and inspired them to work for humanity. When I was Gujarat CM, I had the honour of visiting the Temple”.
Prince Charles issued a video message, recalling visiting the temple with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, during festivals. He said: “The first of its kind outside India, Neasden Temple serves the local community as a place of worship, learning, celebration, peace and community service”.
The temple, built with pillars and stones intricately carved by traditional craftspeople in Gujarat and Rajasthan and shipped to London, is one of the most visited places in London by tourists from India and elsewhere.
According to the temple’s history, its ground-breaking ceremony was held in July 1991, as almost 3,000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone were shipped 3,900 miles to India along with 1,200 tonnes of Italian Carrara marble, which made its own journey of 4,800 miles.
With a further 900 tonnes of Indian Ambaji marble, the over 5,000 tonnes of stone was hand-carved by more than 1,500 skilled artisans at 14 different sites around India into 26,300 pieces.
They were then coded, packed and sent on their final 6,300-mile journey to London where each piece – the largest weighing 5.6 tonnes and the smallest only 50 grams – was assembled like a giant 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle in two and a half years.
MPs Dawn Butler and Gareth Thomas (both Labour) and Bob Blackman (Conservative) were among those hailing the anniversary of the temple, where leading politicians invariably join ‘arti’ and other rituals before elections to seek support of the community.