Gurdwara open to Gravesend Sikhs after eight years work

Image caption, The cost of the gurdwara was raised by the Sikh community of Gravesend

A new place of worship for the Sikh community of north Kent, which has taken eight years to build at a cost of £12m, has been officially opened.

The Guru Nanak Marg Gurdwara, in Saddington Street, Gravesend, is believed to be one of the largest in the UK.

The building includes three worship halls, which can house 1,200 people.

A religious service was held on Friday at the old gurdwara in Clarence Place, before a procession to the new site.

The celebrations will continue with a continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib - the holy scripture of Sikhism - over 48 hours, which was brought to the site on Friday.

'Momentous occasion'

On Sunday, which marks the 541st birthday of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, a service will be held at the gurdwara, as a new Sikh flag is raised outside the building.

President of the gurdwara management committee, Jaspal Singh Dhesi, described the opening as a "momentous occasion for the community".

"The new gurdwara complex is one of the largest outside India, and gives Gravesend an international landmark that will be here to serve many generations," he said.

The cost of the building was raised by the local Sikh community.

It includes a dining hall, kitchen and main lobby, with a lecture theatre, library and creche due to be added by April 2011 at an estimated cost of £1.5m.

The gurdwara opened its doors to the community earlier this year.

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