Same-sex couples can now marry at Hindu temple in Ifield
A HINDU temple has become the first non-Christian venue in Sussex to be granted a marriage licence and one of its key figures has confirmed that gay couples will be more than welcome.
The Apple Tree Centre, in Ifield Avenue, Ifield, which is home to the Gurjar Hindu Union, is now able to host civil ceremonies.
This means couples can legally register their marriage, exchange their religious vows and hold their reception under one roof.
Trustee Bharat Lukka is encouraging all sections of the community to consider having their big day at the temple.
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He said: "Times have changed and we need to change with it. We need to respect everyone.
"Hindus are generally laid back about religion and everyone in our community has ben supportive of the idea. We are quite lucky to have a young community in Crawley so they are quite relaxed about issues and understanding.
"We hold Indian weddings there now but we have wanted to open it up to all religions and sections of the community for some time.
"Now anyone can come along to the centre to have their wedding. Perhaps people might assume that the centre is just for Hindus and we want people to know it is open to everyone, regardless of race, religion or sexuality.
"This is one way of us integrating with the community."
The centre was built three years ago and the walls inside are made completely of marble, which was brought over from Jaipur in India.
Mr Lukka has no doubt that the temple and its beautiful surroundings will be the perfect place for people to tie the knot.
He said: "It is a massive space and the gardens and temple itself are absolutely beautiful.
"We have 250 car parking spaces, space for a large reception and state-of-the-art facilities."
And Mr Lukka joked that marrying at the temple could be lucky. He explained: "You can get married in front of Lord Rama (who there is a picture of in the temple). Lord Rama is believed to be the seventh incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu and is considered to be, among other things, the ideal husband."