Thriving religious community promised help to find site for a temple in Milton Keynes

Newly-elected councillor pledges help to the Shirdi Sai Hindu community

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 11:27 am

Tattenhoe’s newly elected Conservative councillor Manish Verma has said he will work with MK’s thriving Indian community to find a new site for a proposed Hindu temple.

His pledge comes after a planning application for a Hindu temple in Tattenhoe was turned down in November by MK Council’s Democratic Control Committee (DCC).

Officers had recommended the application from the Shirdi Saibaba Temple Association be passed but councillors overturned their advice on the grounds it would cause traffic and parking problems.

The proposed site at Tattenhoe was approved by council officers but frowned upon by residents and councillors

Residents also complained the proposed building, to be built from recycled shopping containers, would be out of keeping with the local area.

Members of MK's sizable Shirdi Sai community were bitterly disappointed. They worship Indian spiritual master Sai Baba of Shirdi, who died in 1918. and preached the importance of love, forgiveness, charity, contentment and inner peace.

The majority of devotees are Indians and/or Hindus, but Shirdi Sai baba also has devotees from all faiths including Sikh, Muslim and Christians.

But, rather than bearing a grudge towards the city that rejected them, the devotees threw themselves into ensuring hundreds of MK people do not go hungry during the Covid crisis.

Cllr Manish Verma

Throughout lockdown, they have spent their days collecting huge bags of rice, atta (wheat flour), large drums of cooking oil, pasta, long life milk and other non-perishable foodstuffs to community fridges, food banks, langars (community kitchen) and charities so they can provide vast quantities of free food for anybody who needs it, whatever their faith.

Members have worked in their own kitchens cooking up meals, which they distribute to venues including the YMCA and Cranfield University, where a group of international students were stuck and short of money for sustenance during the pandemic.

"We endeavour that within five kilometres of any SHITAL temple and centre, no one goes hungry; as was the practice Sai Baba followed when He was physically present in Shirdi, " said a spokesman for the community.

Now newly-elected MK councillor Manish Verma has promised to help find another site for the temple. He his backed by his Tory colleague Cllr James Lancaster - who voted against the Tattenhoe plan.

The devotees worship Indian spiritual master Sai Baba of Shirdi

Cllr Verma has promised to look at all available options and work with the council, the MK Community Foundation and the Indian community to locate a new site.

He said: “A Hindu temple would be a welcome addition to Milton Keynes. We recognise the hard work that those involved with the temple put in to try and achieve this, however, to make this a success for all, we need to come together to find a sensible site that achieves broad community support.

“Providing our Hindu community with a better opportunity to worship locally should be a priority for a diverse and inclusive city like Milton Keynes so we will be doing all we can to work towards that goal”.