LONDON: The idols of sibling deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, as well as the Sudarshan Chakra, the divine weapon of Lord Vishnu, have been installed in London for the first time, as plans are underway to build the first standalone temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath in Britain, which will also be the first in Europe.
The three idols have taken up temporary residence at the Shree Ram Mandir in Southall, the oldest Hindu temple in Britain, while the Shree Jagannath Society UK (SJS UK), a charity, scouts for land in greater London to build a grand temple in London along the lines of the original Jagannath Temple at Puri in the Indian state of Odisha.
The first phase of acquiring 10-30 acres of land, constructing the sanctum and installing the idols is planned to be completed by 2024 at a cost of £4 million (Rs 40 crore). The trust is in the process of raising the money and is looking for a large piece of land on the outskirts of London.
“All three deities are usually present together. There was no venue for them to be worshipped in the UK. This is the first time we have installed them in a large temple in Britain following rituals laid down by the Puri temple,” said SJS UK trustee Dr Chetan Shatapathy.
The prana pratistha (hallowed consecration) rituals of the holy deities were performed over three days between November 1 and 3 at the Shree Ram Mandir in the presence of scores of devotees. The proceedings were shared live with thousands more across the world via Zoom. The idols were carved from the trunk of a holy neem tree in Odisha that bore all the sacred markings associated with Lord Jagannath as laid down in the scriptures.
“When we construct our own temple, we will consecrate new idols for that temple and these idols will stay in Southall. Jagannath is considered to be the deity of Kali Yuga — the current age of strife, according to Hindu scriptures. He is worshiped in Puri, and is popular in Gujarat, Bengal and other parts of India. We want to popularise worship of Jagannath in Britain,” Shatapathy said.
In a video message, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik congratulated the SJS UK for establishing an abode for Lord Jagannath in London and complimented the trust for the medical supplies it provided for Covid-19 patients in rural Odisha during the second wave of the pandemic. Patnaik also thanked SJS UK for its efforts to support rural schools plant one lakh neem saplings across the state.

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