OXFORDSHIRE’S Hindu community is widening its search for a temple after voicing fears it may not find a suitable home in Oxford.

Organisers of the project originally hoped to build a £2m temple around three-quarters of the size of Oxford Ice Rink in the city.

However, the lack of suitable land has led community leaders to consider establishing the temple within 10 miles of the city, with Abingdon and Witney being considered as alternatives.

Organisers have launched a campaign to raise the estimated £500,000 needed to buy or lease a disused church, barn or commercial property and convert it into a temple and community centre.

Currently Oxfordshire’s 5,000 Hindus have no place for communal prayer in the county and have to make long journeys to temples in Birmingham, London or Slough to celebrate their main festivals such as Diwali or Holi this Sunday.

Kashmira Patel, joint secretary of the temple and community project, said: “We are widening our search further than Oxford because it’s hard to find the right place.

“We need somewhere with a medium-sized community hall to hold at least 300 people for our main festivals.

“We also need somewhere with suitable parking because the temples do attract quite a few people.

“We have certain committee members in the profession keeping their eyes open but I think we will surely have to go outside Oxford.”

The county’s Hindus first announced plans to build a temple 18 months ago and have since been awarded charity status.

After launching the fundraising campaign two weeks ago they received pledges totalling £30,000 from Hindu families.

Organisers hope their database of about 250 core families will help them to raise the vast bulk of the cash with donations of £2,000 each but they are also keen to get help from the wider Hindu and non-Hindu community.

Although Hindus follow the lunar calendar and most Indians are celebrating Holi on Sunday, Oxfordshire’s Hindus have decided to hold their Holi mela on Saturday in the hope of enjoying better weather.

The colourful event, which sees Hindus wear traditional robes and paint their faces, will include three live Bhangra and Garba dance performances from groups such as Young Steps based in Blackbird Leys.

The festival at Sandhills Primary School in Terret Avenue will also see stalls offering food from different Indian states and a Henna Hut for temporary skin decorations.

To donate help or financial support to the temple email kashbrazil@hotmail.com or gyangopal@yahoo.co.uk