One of the largest Hindu organisations established in this country, belongs to the saivaities. This had its beginnings in 1966, with the inauguration of the Hindu association of Great Britain on 23rd October 1966, in London. The main object of the Association was to foster the Saiva Siddhantha religion and its form of worship. The other aim was to generate a unifying force among the Dravidians from various parts of the world such as Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Ceylon (SriLanka), Mauritius, South Africa, so that children of these families may mix in a religious atmosphere so as to encourage them to follow their parent’s religious faith and culture.
The late Mr.S.Sabapathipillai, our founder and president spearheaded the movement of this Association. He came to Britain with a mission to carry Saivism to the west, bringing with him a background of religious services in Ceylon. Having earlier relinquished his career in the legal profession, he came under the influence of one of the greatest savant of Saiva Siddhantam, His holiness the late Easana Sivachariar, the Principal of the Saiva Siddhanta College of Palani, Tamil Nadu. Under the tutelage of his Holiness, he obtained the “Triple Theedchais” enabling him to do Siva Pooja which he has been performing regularly for the last thirty eight years.
In 1973, a Thirchendur Murugan Vigraham was specially made in India by Mr.Mohanram of Kumbakonam and this Vigraham was installed with special rites in October 1973. The advent of the Murugan Vigraham and the regular abishegams and poojas further intensified religious fervour. It was felt that the time was ripe for the launching of a campaign to raise funds for the building of a Temple Trust.
Thus, the Brittania Hindu (Shiva) Temple Trust was created by the Hindu Association of Great Britain, on the 17th August 1974, and was registered with the Charity Commission. This trust is administered by seven Trustees with the advice and consent of an Advisory Council, consisting of more than 650 members, who are elected on their pledging to pay £100 in 4 years.
Dr.Alagappan the Secretary of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, took an active interest with the affairs of the Trust. He contacted the reverent Pandrimalai Swamigal of Madras and requested him to do pooja to a yantram for the purpose of building the Temple in London. Poojas were maintained for 12 years to keep the spiritual force of this vigraham.
The financial support given by contributors of over £5000 made by the Parent Organisation (Hindu Association of Great Britain) through its prayer services at Wimbledon and the wedding and funeral services performed by its President and the contributions of about 250 members of the Advisory Council till 1977, and the proceed of fund raising activities netted an increase of about £12,000.
This sum made it possible for the Trust to purchase a spacious freehold property at 200A, Archway Road, Highgate Hill in 1977, where finally the Temple was built. This Temple incorporates some of the richest facets of south Indian Temple architecture, a library, two Concert Halls accommodating 500 people each, residential quarters for the chief priest etc.
The Construction Committee, the members of which include Chartered, Civil and Structural Engineers, a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and Architect, was instrumental in preparing the plans for the approval for the local authority. They were instrumental in constructing in 1979 on annexe consisting of a prayer hall and a Priest’s flat with all conveniences at a cost of about £3,000.
On the 2nd December 1979 we had the grand ceremony on the occasion of the Opening of the premises with a congregation of more than 700 people. On the day of the Hindu New Year of the following year we had a preliminary Prana Prathisda (life-giving) ceremony to the Statues of Shanmuga and the Shakthis which were made at the historic Sculptor associated with making statues for that Temple. The final Prana Prathisda was held on 28th May 1982, the auspicious day of Vaikasi Visakham.
From then onwards we did not look back, membership grew rapidly and the finances improved. So in 1982 we were ready to build the three storied building complex for the Temple. As the Temple become very popular in 1980, it was decided to appoint a permanent Priest.
It must be mentioned that substantial portion of the funds was raised by means of social and cultural events. Over the years up to 1982 the Social and Cultural Committee organised several cultural events which netted a substantial amount of money. Some noteworthy events are: recitals by Seergazhi Govindarajan, M.L.Vasanthakumari, and T.M. Soundararajan. Dance recital by Shirmathi Jalaja Kumar, devotional music recital by Pithukli Murugadas, and music recital by Salem Jeylakshmi. These recitals were also a forum to increase interest by the general public through which the membership committee were able to recruit more members to the Trust and also to the Unit Block Scheme. The Religious Education Committee has been responsible for the education of youngsters in the religious field, and also organised children’s parties. The Trust had employed a teacher to give religious education to youngsters studying at the Greenford Tamil School during weekends.
The Maha Kumbabhishegam (Consecration Ceremony) was held between 9th - 13th July 1986 followed by Mandala Abishegams for 45 days.