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October 21, 2003   VNN8417  

Alfred Ford Lobbies For Vedic Centre In Moscow


MOSCOW, Oct 21 (VNN) — Indo-Asian News Service - Moscow, October 21

The love for Hinduism brought a great grandson of US automobile legend Henry Ford to the Russian capital to lobby for a Vedic cultural centre.

Alfred Ford has been associated with Hinduism related religious-cultural events for over three decades. During his weeklong stay here, he met a number of Russian dignitaries, including Vice Mayor Valeri Santsov, to impress upon them the need for a Vedic cultural centre in Moscow.

"If Moscow wants to be a world class capital, it has to open up to other cultures, particularly ancient cultures like Vedic culture," Ford said.

The proposed centre would add a new dimension to existing ties between India and Russia, Ford said, adding that the authorities had promised him assistance in the construction of the centre.

Addressing representatives of the Indian community in Russia, Ford lauded their efforts to build the cultural centre complex that would be named "Glory of India".

Throwing light on his personal association with India, Ford said he was attracted to Indian civilisation after he studied Hinduism during his college days 30 years ago.

Soon after, he converted to Hinduism and has travelled to India dozens of times. He even married an Indian girl, Sharmila, who hails from Jaipur.

Apart from lobbying for the construction of the Vedic centre, Ford will also make a significant financial contribution for the project that is expected to cost around $10 million.

The complex will apparently be the first of its kind in eastern Europe.

Russia has an estimated 90,000 Russian Hindus, sources at International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) here claim.

A temple in a makeshift building in Moscow's Khoroshevski Shoshe currently caters to the needs of 20,000 Indians. Thousands of Russian devotees too visit the temple.

The Russian orthodox church is very sensitive to the influence of other religions in the country, and the ISKCON movement is no exception.

Though the Moscow authorities had earlier granted permission for a Hindu temple complex in the city, they now appear to be hesitant, possibly after pressure from the local church.

Members of the Indian community are expected to request Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to take up the issue with Russia during his visit to Moscow in mid-November.

© The Hindustan Times

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