THE descendants of a man who was a founder member of Leeds’s Hindu community – and the catalyst for the creation of its landmark temple – are returning to the city to trace his former friends.
The story of Kanji Mulji Luhar was an inspiring AND tragic one.
He arrived in Leeds in the 1950s from Kenya and settled in Hyde Park.
He worked hard and eventually scraped together enough money to call his family over to join him in 1967.
But, as he returned joyfully with his wife and children on the train after picking them up from the airport, he suffered a sudden heart attack, and died.
The family were left desolate and alone in a foreign country and city.
The then fledgling Hindu community in the city pulled together to help them organise the funeral and to start rebuilding their lives – the incident sowed the seeds for the foundation of Leeds Hindu Temple.
And now, more than 40 years later, the temple is thriving.
Mr Luhar’s family – his wife, two sons and a daughter – moved away soon afterwards and settled in Berkshire, losing touch with their kind supporters and surrogate family.
But a recent internet search for their father’s name led them to an article about Leeds Hindu Temple - which featured in the YEP three years ago - and now they are returning to the city to rediscover their West Yorkshire links.
Mahendra Luhar, Mr Luhar’s youngest son, who was just eight when his father died, explained: “It is by pure chance that I did a search in the name of my father, Kanji Mulji Luhar, and the temple came up. We will all be visiting the Leeds Hindu Temple. I would love to meet the families who remember our father and thank them for their support.”
Mr Luhar senior’s death in 1967 sparked a togetherness and the temple would not only allow Leeds’s growing Hindu community to worship and celebrate important dates in an authentic environment, but would also allow for deaths to be dealt with in a proper religious manner and – vitally – provide an immediate home away from home for new or needy families.
Within a year of Mr Luhar’s death, a constitution had been written, a management trust formed, and a building found in Alexandra Road, Hyde Park.
The community eventually bought the building, with five families re-mortgaging their homes to scrape together the £3,500 needed at the time for a bank loan.
If you or a member of your family remembers Mr Luhar senior and his then young family, email: Mahendra via firstname.lastname@example.org