Temple shines through trying times

Thousands of worshippers gathered at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Aldenham this week for the annual celebration of Janmashtami.

The manor's festivities, which celebrate the Hindu God Krishna's birthday, are said to be the largest gathering of Hindus outside India.

Each year around 60,000 people, including leaders from other faiths and political dignitaries, descend upon the Hare Krishna Temple, to mark one of the key dates in the Hindu calendar.

Radha Mohan Das, spokesman for the Hare Krishna group, said: "It is the busiest time of the year for me but it is always worth it.

"It is a spiritual experience for everybody and it is wonderful seeing everybody enjoying the surroundings.

"It is my favourite time of the year."

In 1973, Piggot's Manor in Aldenham, which was being used as a nurses training college, was sold to former Beatle George Harrison.

He donated the property to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, who renamed it Bhaktivedanta Manor after the founder of the movement.

In the temple's first year, 250 people attended Janmashtami, and two years later the figure had risen to 3,000.