Willesden Hindu community devastated as beloved idols stolen from temple after new year celebrations

The three small idols that were stolen from the temple.

The three small idols that were stolen from the temple. - Credit: Archant

A masked raider broke into a Willesden temple and stole three precious idols – hours after Hindu new year celebrations had taken place.

Members of the Shree Swaminarayan Temple have been left devastated by the theft of the beloved Hari Krishna murtis, which have been in the shrine since the temple opened in 1975.

Thousands of people had visited the Willesden Lane temple for the celebrations following Diwali – the festival of light which marks the triumph of good over evil.

Committee member Umang Jeshani told the Times: “One man in a balaclava came in during the early hours and took the three idols from the shrine.

“They are usually made from brass. We’re assuming the robbers thought it was gold. There’s not much monetary value but they are highly respected and this incident has had a big impact within the community already.

“They have been prayed to and been with us since we opened. We pray and hope for their safe return.”

The temple closed at about 11pm following yesterday’s celebrations, and police have been viewing CCTV and conducting forensic searches.

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A letter from temple president Kurjibhai Kerai said there would be no change to prayer times and urged the community to pray for their safe return.

Cllr Ketan Sheth told the Times: “It’s absolutely ghastly. Only yesterday thousands of people were there celebrating the new year.”

Anyone with information about the break-in or the idols can call 101 quoting 1928781/18.