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UK Sikhs Locate A New Place Of Worship


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
SIKHS in Oxford could soon have a new place to pray after being evicted from a temple at a Marston house.

Since 2006, members of the Sikh community had been using 69 Cherwell Drive to hold weekly prayer meetings.

But in May, after repeated warnings by Oxford City Council to cease the unauthorised use of the building as a place of worship, the group was finally ordered to stop using it with immediate effect.

It followed concerns from neighbours about chanting and car parking issues.

Now, Sikhs who formed a breakaway group in 2010, think they may have found a solution to their problem, and a place for the whole community to use.

The Guru Manyo Granth Sikh Centre (GMGSC) group, which set itself up as a charity in the early part of last year, is waiting for planning permission on a patch of land at Bunkers Hill, near Kidlington. Member Ranjit Ryatt, of Minster Lovell, said if permission to change the former clubhouse to a place of worship was given the go-ahead by Cherwell District Council, the group would move immediately and look to build a new centre within the next 18 months.

He said: “The aim of our organisation is to benefit the residents of Oxford and the surrounding neighbourhoods, without distinction of sex, sexual orientation, race or of political, religious or other opinions.

“We want to provide a community service which will improve the conditions of life for all of the residents, not just our own community.

“We hope to be able to offer a range of educational and training courses from the centre for everyone to get involved in.”

Sikhs do not have a specific holy day, as they meditate, pray, sing hymns and read scripture every day. But most traditionally meet for prayers on a Sunday because of work commitments.

The GMGSC group has been meeting at the New Marston Pastoral Centre, Marston Road, Oxford, on Sundays while they wait for planning approval on the new site.

Mr Ryatt said the centre could hold a solution for Sikhs in Oxford who want to perform the last rites on their deceased.

He said: “Say there was a bereavement in the family, at the moment there is nowhere nearby for them to perform the last rites.

“Many are forced to travel with the body to Slough, Swindon or Reading, and that can be very distressing for them.

“We hope people will support our proposal because we are proposing something which will be a benefit for the whole community.”

He added the new site, if approved, would predominantly be a Sikh centre, with space for events and social gatherings, but would also be used for praying.

A decision is due to be made by Cherwell District Council.



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