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Bedford UK Gurdwara marks first anniversary

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    It is one year since Bedford's skyline was changed beyond recognition by the completion of a 4m Sikh temple.

    After five years of planning and three years of building, the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Ford End Road, Queens Park, opened in April last year amid a vibrant ceremony of celebration and colour.

    Amrik Singh Jamu, general secretary of the project, said: "We are incredibly proud of this beautiful and unique Gurdwara – the first built in England in the traditional Sikh style.

    "We wanted to give people in the West and young Sikhs an experience of Sikh cultural heritage and which would encourage people to visit India and see more."

    The building, which can accommodate 600 worshippers, was a mammoth undertaking.

    Granite and marble, which clad the outside, were imported from western India – along with 20 stonemasons who worked for a year-and-a half crafting the stunning exterior.

    The Gurdwara is part of a 2.5-acre complex, complete with community centre and kitchens which can cater for up to 500 for celebrations such as weddings.

    There is also off-road parking for more than 100 vehicles.
    Shaminder Singh-Billen, assistant education secretary at the temple, said: "The Gurdwara has done an amazing thing for the community, not just for Sikhs.

    "Classes are taught here and we give
    a place for youngsters to go and do something constructive with their time, whether it be to learn judo or play football.

    "And what we are finding now is that young Sikhs are far more enthusiastic when it comes to learning about their religion because they enjoy coming to the temple and community centre."

    Donations, a loan and 1.33m of lottery funding, under its ethnic minority initiative, funded the 4m build.

    It was the only Sikh project to be awarded any money by the Millennium Commission.

    Mr Jamu said: "I would like to say a special thanks to Tom Wells, chairman of Wells and Young's. They sold us 1.25 acres at a very reasonable rate because they were keen to see the land used for the benefit of the community rather than leave it as waste."

    In the coming years priceless Sikh artefacts normally kept at London's Victoria and Albert Museum will be on display at the Gurdwara.
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