Six Sacred Sites - Basingstoke, Hampshire

The boundary between the sacred and profane is both virtual and physical. Sacredness isn't necessarily location-defined but is also a state of mind and an expression of community. The strict rules of Hindu temple architecture are not vital to British Hindus: for a place becomes sacred with worship - with people. The temple becomes a focus for community identity as well as the dwelling place of the gods and deities - creating 'an intensification of social relationships and the reinforcement of religious traditions'.*

The very strength of Hinduism is its ability to adapt to each new environment and the demands of each new age. There is a standardisation of Hinduism in Britain that seeks to unify whilst allowing for ethnic expression. The devotional can worship alongside the ritualistic for the end is the same: to know oneself.

As one Southampton Hindu states: 'the temple, its rituals and its imagery act as a telephone to connect the worshipper with Brahman and so with himself'. At Basingstoke the temple room is almost anonymous in its corner of a community hall. The small sign of 'Mandir' and a short length of ornamental fabric are all that may alert a member of Basingstoke's Ladies Choir or the Sapphire Sequence Dance Club to the presence of this focal point for the town's Hindu community.

Hinduism is a sharing and community-minded faith and this is reflected in the efforts of the Basingstoke Hindu Society to make this amenity available to all. Immediately next to the temple room, separated only by a partition wall, is the office where members of the society undertake the day-to-day running of the hall. It is here that Mugridge's response is centred; where the sacred and the profane exist cheek by jowl.

* Knott, K. (1987) 'Hindu Temple Rituals in Britain: The reinterpretation of Tradition' in Burghart, R. (ed.) Hinduism in Great Britain: The Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu Tavistock Publications, New York