The Sri Ventakeswara Balaji Temple is one of the most remarkable achievements of the Hindu communities in the United Kingdom. Set in a 25 acre site in Tividale, it is the second largest Hindu temple in the UK. It is so much more than simply a physical religious complex, it is recognized as one of the leading Hindu institutions in the UK, thanks to the ambitions of Dr Narayana Rao, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and the Board.
Dr Rao has expressed his vision in a form of dedicating individual manmade hills to differing faiths at the Temple. Dr Rao explains that when you travel to the Balaji Temple in India you have to travel through seven hills. Dr Rao has taken this idea and recreated manmade hills at Balaji Temple in Tividale. The idea is to dedicate each of these hills to a different great world faith that have impacted India and the UK. The first two of these hills, celebrating Buddhism and Christianity have already been consecrated. The Christian Hill was consecrated by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams in 2008. The purpose of this concept is to help raise community cohesion, unity and accepting diversity in a multi-cultural society.
On the 28th of September 2013, the third of these hills will be dedicated to the Zoroastrian faith. On this historic day a unique three dimensional 8 foot wide Farohar (Zoroastrian symbol) will be unveiled made locally from Tata steel. Tata is well established in the local region and given that the founder is of Zoroastrian faith it is fitting that the Farohar is made using Tata Steel. Jimmy Suratia, Chairman of the North West Zoroastrian Community, said that this will be the “first Zoroastrian landmark outside London ever in the UK”. Zoroastrian priest will also conduct a short prayer on the Hill. Ervad Bahadur Nalladaroo is travelling all the way from the Banaji Atash Behram in Bombay and will be joined by Ervad Rushi Bhedwar who is a prominent UK based Zoroastrian priest.
The Farohar is not just built using local Tata steel, but is built by a local British artist Luke Perry. Luke is the Director of a public art company whose goal is to anchor community values and civic pride in areas where people need to remember their heritage. Luke stated “this is one of the most exciting projects that I have been involved in as not only does it allow me to work with the wonderful people of the Balaji Temple but it also give us the opportunity to create what we believe to be the world’s first 3 dimensional Farohar. I feel also that this commission has allowed me to embrace my own style of artwork in full”.
However, the Temple doesn’t want to simply erect the first ever public display of the Farohar which is a Zoroastrian symbol but want to celebrate the 1,300 years of collaboration and friendship between Hindus and Zoroastrians (Parsis). “The 28th September celebrations will be a day of building deep friendships with our Parsi brothers and sisters, and it is a step forward to demonstrate to the world that different faiths can live together and celebrate each other” said Dr Rao. “This historic day is a day billed to celebrate similarities rather than focusing on each other’s differences. The Temple anticipates 700 people on the day and many people from all different faiths will join together.”
On the day, straight after the unveiling and before the free dinner is served there will be a cultural programme where the Temple will celebrate the contributions of Parsis in business, philanthropy, politics and entertainment. Speakers will range from a Board member of Tata, Freddie Mercury’s sister Kashmira, Lord Bilimoria to author Kusoom Vadgama.
You are all invited: YOUR INVITATION