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News ->Bhumi Puja for Britain's first state funded Hindu School
Bhumi Puja for Britain's first state funded Hindu School
(7 June 2008)

The Rt Hon Barry Gardiner MP, London Assembly Member Navin Shah and Councillor Anjana Patel perform the bhumi puja for the Krishna Avanti SchoolThe holy ceremony of Bhumi Puja (ground-breaking) ceremony of the first ever state-funded Hindu School in Britain took place on Saturday 7th June 2008 and marked the start of building works to be completed in August 2009 . The Krishna Avanti Primary School is situated in the London Borough of Harrow which has one of the highest concentration of Hindus in the country. The event is organised by the I-Foundation who successfully bid for the school and the newly appointed governors which now includes among others Peter Hamilton headmaster of Haberdashers and Askes School.

The Rt. Hon Tony McNulty MP with London Assembly Member Navin Shah perform the bhumi puja for the Krishna Avanti school.Bhumi Puja is the taking of permission of Mother Earth before the commencement of works to build the school. It included the chanting of 10,000 year old Sanskrit prayers, ancient costumes and devotional singing to the accompaniment of Indian drums and cymbals. It culminated in a holy Hindu ritual called Yajna, where robed priests, assisted by children, poured sanctified offerings of clarified butter into a large sacred fire.

Politicians, religious and community leaders with the project donors were lead to the excavation and construction site where those present took part in the ceremony, lead by His Holiness Atmanivedana Swami from Gujarat and Christine Gilbert the Chief Inspector of OFSTED (previously known as Chief Inspector of Schools).

The Krishna-Avanti Primary School is the result of years of careful planning and discussion with the local authority and government. It will be UK's first Hindu faith-based Voluntary Aided state school (and as such will not charge fees). The School will be established as a one-form of entry, mixed primary school with attached nursery and will open in September 2008 with a Reception class.

Pupils will have dedicated yoga and Sanskrit lessons and will grow vegetables, in line with the vegetarian principles of the school. A Hindu temple will take pride of place in the courtyard of the new school. When in full capacity, it will have about 240 pupils.

Nitesh Gor, Chairman of Governors and member of the I-Foundation, said there has been no Hindu state school until now because the community has not been ready. "it has taken the Hindu community the last few decades to establish its root in this country...only now are we coming up to that level of expertise to say 'we can deliver this,'" he said.

Two more Hindu state schools, one in Leicester and one in Barnet, north London, could open in the next few years. Pupils of Indian origin, who are mostly Hindu, have a strong record of academic success in British schools. They pass 59% of their GCSEs with grades A to C, compared with only 44 % amongst white pupils.

The school is being hailed as one of the most environmentally friendly ever built. It will have solar panels to generate electricity and grass on the roof to keep heat in the building, keeping in line with respect for mother earth being a central theme in the Vedic scriptures.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Ofsted was chief guest of the Bhumi Puja. "I look forward to the Krishna Avanti School to be a centre of excellence and to be a very positive contribution to the Harrow community," she said.

"Harrow is proud to have the first and only state-aided Hindu school in the country," said Leader of Harrow Council, Cllr David Ashton. "It is also highly appropriate for Harrow to have this honour because of our ethnic diversity, in particular, a large Hindu population. This is about giving people choice. We look forward to the school being a focus of both academic achievement and community inclusion. This is history in the making."

Naina Parmar"This is a school where we will hold to high esteem that every child and adult matters, said the Krishna Avanti School's New Head Teacher Mrs Naina Parmar, "we will foster positive and lasting relationships within the school, with parents, the local community, the school's faith partner and local schools in Harrow. "We recognise and take our duty seriously, in ensuring that we promote community cohesion, inclusion and value intercultural and religious diversity. We will ensure our pupils are equipped with life- long skills and attitudes essential to enable them to make not just positive but outstanding contributions to all aspects of contemporary British society."

Naina has been involved in various leadership and executive roles during her time as a teacher and Senior Leader within Primary Education. She is an Oxford Farmington Fellow and Advanced Skills Teacher for Religious Education,. She is also a consultant for the QCA (Qualifications Curriculum Authority) for Religious Education and the Primary curriculum. The school's faith partner is Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna Temple.

Tthe Krishna Avanti School: William Ellis Playing Fields on Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middx HA8 6ES.


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