High Sheriff launches guide to city temple

Fiona Finch reports on the official launch of a new children’s guide to Preston’s renowned Gujarat Hindu Society temple.

The High Sheriff of Lancashire Edwin Booth has officially launched a new guide to Preston's Gujarat Hindu Society temple.

The temple is the second largest Hindu temple in the UK and the VIP visit was the High Sheriff's first official engagement following the recent lifting of some of the pandemic restrictions.

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He was accompanied by his wife Anne and said: “This was my first physical visit after three months of squinting on Zoom and it was like a breath of fresh air to be welcomed by the Gujarat Hindu Society in Preston to launch their new guide book for school children visiting the temple.”

Ishwer Tailor pictured inside the temple with the new guidebook Photo: Neil Cross

He continued: “Mrs Booth and I were treated to a beautiful traditional Indian dance and a delicious carefully served lunch. Our hosts made a huge effort to make us feel safe and we learned a lot about this peaceful and caring culture.”

The new guide for children visiting the temple forms part of a £10,000 National Lottery Community Fund Awards For All programme entitled Culture Curious.

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Society Vice President Ishwer Tailor said: “After the pandemic this is the first live event where we’ve had an official dignitary and we were also able to have a lunch. It was a warm change for us to have visitors and be able to launch the booklet.”

The headmistress of neighbouring St Stephen’s C. of E. school Mrs Helen Wright and some of the school’s pupils also attended the launch of the 20 page booklet.

Ishwer Tailor shows the gudebook to St Stephen's C.E. school pupils Lucy and Shivam and headteacher Helen Wright Photo: Neil Cross

Ishwer said it is intended the guidebook for children will also be a resource for schools to learn about the Hindu symbols, festivals and how the Hindu faith is practised in Preston.

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The event started with a lighting of lamps and garlanding of guests, who were welcomed by Society President Dashrathbhai Nayee. Visitors also watched a dance performed by a student of the Abhinandana Dance Academy.

In the guidebook's introduction Centre President Dashrathbhai says the leaflet is intended to help people gain a better understanding of the “Hindu Way of Life” and the Culture Curious project will provide insights into that life by outreach work to schools and providing the opportunity to experience Hindu worship, dance workshops and Indian arts and crafts workshops at the temple and centre. The Society has also taken workshops out to schools.

The guide outlines the history of the GHS, discusses symbols in Hinduism, outlines the main Hindu scriptures, the Hindu Trinity and Hindu festivals. It can be purchased for 50p and was compiled by a temple steering group.

Pictured from left: Society Vice President Ishwer Tailor, Anne Booth and High Sheriff Edwin Booth, Society President Dashrathbhai Nayee and St Stephen's C..E school head Helen Wright at the launch
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The purpose built temple is the second largest in the UK and cost £4m. It was part funded by the Millennium Commission which awarded £1.77m towards the major building project. The temple opened on January 1, 2000 to mark the new Millennium. A particular feature is the 150 tonnes of marble carved in India and incorporated in the building..

The adjoining community centre is used for local events and is also used for conferences and training events by external organisations.

Schools wishing to book a school visit to the temple hould check out the website www.ghspreston.co.uk or contact the centre manager Abhi (Abhinandana) Kodanda on 01772 253901.

Abhi is also an expert in Indian classical dance, trains dancers and has lead workshops for schools as part of the Culture Curious project.

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Centre Manager Abhi Kodanda pictured with the new guidebook outside the Gujarat Hindu Society temple Photo: Neil Cross

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High Sheriff Edwin Booth pictured at the launch with pupils from St Stephen's C.E. school
Part of the guidebook cover