Britain’s most powerful church leader is to visit a large Hindu temple in central England in a gesture of friendship and peace just weeks after the killings of Christians by Hindu extremists in Orissa. Rowan Williams, who as the Archbishop of Canterbury heads the Church of England, is to visit the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) temple Nov 15 in what he has described as a sign of friendship and hope.
Although it is not the first such visit in multi-faith Britain, it assumes a deeper significance in the backdrop of the recent anti-Christian violence in Orissa that has left at least 38 people dead and thousands homeless.
Williams himself set the tone of his visit in a Diwali message to the Hindu community Oct 28, when he expressed his hope for “reconciliation where there has been division and hurt” and for “peace and the rejection of all resort to violence”.
Williams said he accepted the invitation by the trustees of the Balaji temple, Europe’s largest Hindu place of worship, as a sign of the “celebration of friendship and the facing of challenges with hope”.