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All that we can do is pray.

Byline: ALISON DUCK

MONEY is pouring in to a pounds 100,000 appeal launched in Coventry to help the victims of the devastating earthquake in Gujarat. But as well as financial aid, spiritual support is being given at the many temples throughout the city.

A SIMPLE candle has been placed on the brightly decorated altar of the Hare Krishna Temple in Radford.

The flickering light is a symbol of peace in the troubled Indian state of Gujarat and in the hearts of the worshippers who gathered at the temple in Kingfield Road yesterday lunchtime to chant special prayers for the victims of the earthquake.

They sit crossed-leg on the carpeted floor around the altar, overlooked by a flower-covered statue of their spiritual leader Prabhupada, to be led in prayers by Haridas, the president of the temple.

To the beat of the harmonium, he chants the Mahantra, a mesmerising prayer sung in gratification of the Lord at such difficult times. The women softly clap in time to the sound of cymbals, bells and a drum reverberating around the incense-filled room.

On Sunday, the temple at the Shree Shree Radha Krishna Cultural Centre was packed with people seeking solace in the shocking wake of the biggest earthquake to hit India in 50 years.

"We reminded them that this is a divine intervention and there is nothing much a man can do except to pray for calm and peace," said Haridas, who will be leading special prayers for an hour every day this week at 7.30pm.

"There is quite a community here from Gujarat. There are people whose relatives are out there and are affected. They are looking for comfort. We are inviting anyone to come here and pray."

The scene of special prayers is being repeated at Hindu and Sikh temples all over the city as members of the Indian community wait anxiously to hear if relatives and loved ones have survived the disaster, which is expected to have claimed at least 20,000 lives.

Places such as the Hindu Temple in Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, are being opened during the day and at night for worshippers in search of peace and hope.

Men, women and children sit in silent prayer at the Nanak Sar Gurdwara Temple in Foleshill Road, one of the largest places of worship for the Sikh community in the city.

With their shoes removed and heads covered, they solemnly approach the gold altar where women take it in constant turns to quietly read from the Holy Book for hours at a time.

"People are coming in throughout the day to pray," said Bhagwant Singh Pandher, treasurer of the temple.

"The community is very shocked and concerned at what has happened."

Narendra Gandhi, aged 61, from Cheylesmore, turned to the Shri Krishna Temple in Foleshill Road for prayer on Saturday night, hours after discovering that his wife's relatives living in the earthquake zone were safe.

They managed to escape from their home in a block of flats before it came crashing to the ground.

"There are a lot of families going through the same trauma," said Narendra, who stayed in the block when he and his last visited their family three years ago.

"It has been heartbreaking to see what has happened. All we can do is pray."

CAPTION(S):

COMFORT: Prayers being said at the Nanak Sur Gurdwara Temple; SOLEMN: Hare Krishna Temple president Haridas lights a candle for the victims of the earthquake. Pictures: ROY KILCULLEN; HOPE: People gather at the Hare Krishna Temple
COPYRIGHT 2001 Coventry Newpapers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 30, 2001
Words:588
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