Hindus join Krishna celebrations at controversial temple

SOME OF THE 25,000 Hindus who travelled to the controversial temple at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire yesterday to worship Janmashtami, during the celebration of the birth of Krishna.

People who had made the trip from as far afield as Preston and Portsmouth spent the day queuing to pass through the temple and pay their respects, writes Matthew Brace.

For 21 years the neo-Elizabethan mansion, donated to the movement by the former Beatle George Harrison, has been a temple without planning permission. Some believe it is now the most important shrine for Hindus in Britain.

The temple at Letchmore Heath which houses the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has been at the centre of an eight-year dispute with Hertsmere Borough Council.

In the latest development, the society has appealed to John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, against an enforcement order placed on the devotees by the council forbidding worship. Local residents have complained about the number of cars which the worshippers bring to events and also to their chanting.

Now the society is to apply retrospectively for permission for the temple. But many Krishna devotees say if the gates were locked to visitors they would still climb over to honour the shrine. Failing that they would worship from the closest spot - on the village green.

(Photograph omitted)