More than 250 people attended a ground-breaking ceremony in Stanmore to mark the construction of Britain's first state-funded Hindu primary school.
The bhumi puja (earth worship) event took place at 10am on Saturday (07) in William Ellis Playing Fields, in Camrose Avenue, where the Krishna-Avanti Primary School will be constructed over the next 12 months, in time for September 2009.
The 90-minute ceremony had three parts - speeches by the five special guests, followed by one hour of prayers around a bonfire and then the actual turning of the first sod by dignitaries.
Vinay Tanna, communications officer for the school's faith partner, the Bhaktivedanta Manor Temple in Watford, said: "Before any type of construction takes place, we need permission from Mother Earth."
He said a priest led an hour of prayers which involved the audience reciting of 108 mantras, or verses, and throwing incense and clarified butter into the fire after each one.
Headteacher Naina Parmar was joined by Nitesh Gor, the director of sponsors I-Foundation and chairman of the governing body; Councillor David Ashton (Conservative), leader of Harrow Council; the headteacher of The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys School in Elstree, Peter Hamilton, who will also be a school governor at Krishna-Avanti Primary School; and the keynote speaker, Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert.
Constructors Mansell will begin to build on Monday, Mr Tanna said. The school's inaugural class of 30 Reception children will be given space within Little Stanmore Nursery, First and Middle School in St David's Drive, Stanmore, for the first year.