The UK’s first temple dedicated to Lord Jagannatha being planned in London is well on the way with a pledge of millions of pounds from global Indian investors.
The Shree Jagannatha Society (SJS) UK, a registered UK charity, announced that Biswanath Patnaik made a pledge of £25 million at the first Shree Jagannatha Convention held in London over the weekend. Patnaik, originally from the Northeast Indian state of Odisha, is the founder of the FinNest Group of companies. The company’s UK-based managing director, Arjun Kar, is the principal donor of the project.
SJS UK said that addressing the convention, Kar announced that Patnaik has pledged a sum of £25 million towards the construction of what is planned as a “magnificent temple” for Lord Jagannatha in London. Kar also revealed at the event that the group has committed £7 million towards the purchase of nearly 15 acres of land for the proposed Shree Jagannatha Mandir London, which is likely to complete phase one of construction by the end of 2024.
“A suitable land has been identified and is currently in the final stages of purchase, and a pre-planning application has been submitted to the local government council to secure permission for the Mandir’s construction,” the charity said.
Gajapati Maharaja said: “The most significant aspect of the tradition of Lord Jagannatha is its all-encompassing universality. He is invoked and worshipped by virtually all the diverse religious sampradayas – each in their own way. Lord Jagannatha is also worshipped by Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.”
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Dr Sahadev Swain, Chairperson of SJS UK, expressed the hope that the new Shree Jagannatha Mandir London will become an epicentre of Jagannatha culture in Europe and a prominent pilgrimage site, attracting thousands of devotees and tourists from around the world.
The charity's Trustees include Bhakta Panda, Aditya Singh, Santosh Pattnayak, Chetan Shatapathy, Sukanta Sahu, Amita Mishra, Nidhi Kar, and Anjan Mishra. The group had also taken their campaign for a London temple to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and handed him gold-plated deities from India during his leadership campaign trail in London last year.
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SJS UK was set up three years ago and has since successfully installed several Chaturdha Murtis – idols of Lord Jagannatha and his siblings Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and divine Sudarshana Chakra – in temples across the UK and Ireland.