First Gandhi Peace Centre outside India opens in the West Midlands

The first Gandhi Peace Centre outside India opens tomorrow in the West Midlands, in the grounds of the Shri Venkateswara Balaji Temple in Tividale.

It is supported by the Aditya Birla Group, one of only two bodies officially recognised by the Indian Government to foster the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. The centre has also been supported by the Gandhi Foundation.

Mrs Rajashree Birla will attend the inauguration ceremony, along with other dignitaries including the Consul General of India in Birmingham, Dr Aman Puri, Lord Bhikhu Parekh and the Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street. The Mayor of Sandwell Cllr Joy Edis will welcome them.

The date was chosen to correspond with the eve of the UK Inter Faith Week and World Science Day for Peace & Devolvement.

The centre features a permanent exhibition of Gandhi’s life and message – told via interactive exhibits, video clips and rare photographs as well as Yoga and meditation teaching resources and a library.

There are facilities for meetings, seminars and practical activities to spread the message of peace and non-violence and foster community relations.

This is the latest addition to the temple complex, which opened in 1999, developing from a dream by the Hindu community to create a spiritual centre, through public support and a Millennium Fund grant, into one of the biggest places of worship in Europe.

The 27-acre Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple site already attracts more than half a million visitors a year, including devotees, students and some 10,000 schoolchildren. 

Uniquely, it also includes seven Faith Hills, symbolising the seven major faiths in the community, modelling on Mahatma Gandhi’s message: ‘For me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden.’