LEADERS of a 300-strong Hindu community group are still campaigning to build Oxford’s first Hindu temple – five years after the project launched.

Those behind the Oxford Hindu Temple and Community Centre project have been hoping to establish a £2m purpose-built centre since September 2008.

But despite years of dedicated fundraising, they have only managed to gather £100,000 and the team are still in desperate need for a permanent base for the county’s 5,000 Hindus.

Treasurer DharamaRaj Gupta said: “We thought we have to do something for the community. We don’t have any kind of place where we can get things of a cultural and educational value.

“We are homeless. We don’t have anywhere for our community at all.

“We feel very very depressed about the last five-and-a-half years when we have worked so hard and we can’t find anything at all.”

The project began after members realised there was not any place in the city for them to hold community events and communal prayer.

Chairman Dr Gyan Gopal said: “There’s no Hindu temple in Oxford. There are places of worship for all other faiths but Hinduism is missing out.

“The idea is that when we have a temple, it will act as a temple used for cultural events and prayers but it’s not just for Hindus to get together, but for like-minded friends as well.”

Hoping to improve inter-faith relations, the project aims to provide a central meeting place for all cultures within the community.

Unable to find a home, group members have been travelling across the city for the past five years to hold their monthly gatherings.

Fundraising drives have also stretched across the city including events at Kennington Village Hall, Manzil Way’s Asian Cultural Centre, and Headington’s Sandhills Community Centre.

But regular travelling is becoming a problem for the group’s disabled and elderly members and they are finding it increasingly difficult to fundraise.

Mr Gupta said: “We feel disappointed that every time we have functions we have to go to different places.

“Sometimes the problem is that if you go to different places the older people don’t want to go that far.”

He added: “For five-and-a-half years we have been continuously trying to convince people but we have had no success.

“It’s like driving in a car and finding a dead end.

“I am over 60 and I’m not going to last much longer. If we can make this in Oxford it would be the greatest achievement in my life.”

The £2m needed would be used towards purchasing land and building a permanent base but Mr Gupta said the group are happy with any space to begin with.

He added: “We have looked at many places that are empty. Oxford is a very expensive place but we don’t have that kind of money.”

The group are hoping for a cash boost at their fundraising event at Restore, on Manzil Way, from noon on Saturday.

Visitors can enjoy a host of live performers, as well as Indian food, fashion and family activities.

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