Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 12:37 UK

Hindu worshippers in first prayer

Hindu gathering
A campaign has been launched to raise money to build a Hindu temple

Hindu worshippers across Oxfordshire have gathered for the first time to pray together.

About 100 people attended the meeting at Kennington Village Hall on Sunday.

Members of the faith in the area hope to hold sessions every month and have launched a campaign to raise money to build their own temple in Oxford.

Dr Guan Gopal, who helped organise the meeting, says a temple would mean services like weddings and funerals could be held locally.

At the moment, he has to advise people to travel to London or Birmingham temples where they can be carried out.

"A lady rang me saying she was looking after a Hindu couple and one of them passed away," he added.

"She asked me if I could do the funeral rights, but I'm not a trained priest so I had to advise her go to a London temple."

Dr Gopal came to live in the county almost 40 years ago and has the ambition to give the Hindu community a place of its own.

"When I arrived the community wasn't big enough to even think of having a Hindu temple," he said.

"Now we have something like 2,500 Hindus in Oxfordshire and that is a big enough community to have our own temple."

Organisers are planning to hold monthly prayer meetings at hired venues around Oxfordshire.

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