SWINDON’S Hindu community came together on Saturday to celebrate the opening of a new temple and cultural centre.

It is the first venue of its kind in the town and community leaders are hoping it will bring benefits to everyone.

Located on Darby Close, the building was empty but over the past few months it has been transformed into place for the thousands of Hindus living in Swindon to practice their faith and integrate further.

Much work has gone into refurbishing the site in recent months, and families from across the area came to enjoy a day of celebration to mark the first opening.

“Today marks a new chapter for Swindon’s Hindu community,” said Pradeep Bhardwaj, the chairman of the Swindon Hindu Temple Trust.

“For many here it is the biggest day of their lives. There have been Hindus in Swindon for 60 years but there hasn't been a temple or community centre.

“I am very proud, more than proud, I am humbled. To be able to accomplish something like this for the entire community is beyond my wildest dreams.

“Throughout our lives we keep chasing dreams but having seen what it’s like to do this I would be willing to forego any of my personal dreams.”

Pradeep says the new centre will give Hindus the opportunity and a base from which to bring far more to Swindon.

He said: “The temple makes up less than ten per cent of what we do here. This will now give us a place to contribute to Swindon and the economy.

“We can send positive vibes to investors in India who have previously gone to places like Birmingham and Manchester.

“But we can help with social issues such as poverty. There will be food for those who cannot afford to eat and shelter for the homeless.

“We will be running classes from here as well.”

There is also a desire within the Hindu community for closer working with the local authority to increase integration.

“This building is an example of what we can achieve,” said Pradeep.

“It was empty but we worked together and it has been brought back into a positive use.”