The Hindu community may not be the largest in Gravesham but it is trying to make a mark on the town. Reporter ALISON WHITE discovers its aim is to have a permanent place of worship.

GRAVESHAM'S skyline is dotted with the spires or domes of places of worship, marking the number of different religions in the borough.

The Sikh community is building a new £8m temple, Muslims paid for their own cultural centre and mosque and churches are spread throughout the borough.

But until a year ago, Hindus did not have anywhere to worship.

For years families met in each other's houses.

The Gravesham Hindu Association was set up in 2000 after being awarded nearly £3,000 in a lottery grant.

Last year, the association began renting space in Miskin Hall, Hever Court Road, Gravesend, and began regular services.

A separate branch of the Gravesham Hindu Association, the Hindu Samiti, was created to organise and run the weekly worship.

Now 10 families meet each Sunday morning for prayer and holy book readings.

Hinduism is 3,000 years old, has more than 545,000 followers in England and is the fourth-biggest religion in Gravesham, with 602 followers according to the 2001 census.

The religion does not have one main holy book or single founder.

Instead a large number of writings and different religious groups formed Hinduism.

Hindus believe in Karma, a cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

The Gravesham Hindu Association continues to run weekly Indian classic dance sessions at Holy Trinity CE Primary School, Trinity Road.

It is also charged with the responsibility of organising celebrations for four different festivals each year.

These include the celebration of Diwali, a festival of lights which celebrates the new year, and spring festival Holi, which involves people throwing coloured powder and water at each other.

But Hindus are keen to create a permanent place of worship like all the other major religions in the town.

Hindu Samiti founder member Daya Sharma says it is important to give the Hindu community a "face".

She added other faith groups are always welcome and encouraged to visit services on a Sunday to find out more about the religion and its practices.

Mrs Sharma said: "People are not aware of Hindus.

"It's good to know the community has a face otherwise no-one knows about us.

"Anyone who is interested is welcome.

"A centre would mean we can run many different activities for adults, youths and people who want to know about the association."

Mrs Sharma, who is a member of the Thames Gateway Womens' Multi-faith Forum, says understanding is the key to harmony between religions in Gravesham.

She said: "We understand each other's ups and downs.

"It becomes part of the culture."


  • HINDUISM is the third-largest religion in the world, with approximately 900 million followers worldwide.
  • Brahman, who takes different forms, is depicted as a universal soul or God for Hindus.
  • The Hindu religion also worships many celestial entities, called Devas.
  • To worship, Hindus repeat the names of their favourite gods and goddesses.
  • They repeat mantras and make offerings to Brahman and recognise other gods as aspects of him.
  • Families often worship together.
  • Karma is a reflection of how a person lived their lives in all their lifetimes and its effect on their future.
  • There are 44,575 Hindus living in the south east, according to the 2001 census.