A Hindu temple is looking for a new home for a 6-metre-tall chariot after being served notice by the council to move it from its current storage space.

The chariot is owned by the Kali Amman Hindu temple in Forest Road, Walthamstow.

It is made from Sri Lankan wood and is carved to represent the goddess Kali – Kali Amman is the only temple in the UK dedicated to Kali.

Every April the temple holds a chariot festival during which the structure is pulled around the community giving residents a chance to experience Hindu traditions.

However, next year’s event is in jeopardy as the temple searches for a new space to store the chariot.

Earlier this year, Waltham Forest Council served a planning enforcement notice to the chariot’s custodian over a scaffolding structure with a corrugated metal roof that had been erected in a residential garden without planning permission; the chariot was being stored under the structure.

The temple contends it is essential the chariot remains in its current storage as the location enables it to be cared for by a carpenter with the “necessary skills to maintain it”.

However, since the structure was erected without planning permission, and the temple’s appeal against the decision rejected, it must be moved to a new home by December 25 – failure to do so will be a criminal offence.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

Kali Amman Hindu temple is urgently seeking a new home for its chariot. Photo: Wendy J. Smith

Wendy Smith, Chair of Waltham Forest Faith Community, said: “The chariot festival is a very important part of the religious and cultural tradition of this community.

“It is part of the rich cultural diversity that makes Waltham Forest what it is. It would be an unfortunate ending to Waltham Forest’s year as the first London Borough of Culture if rather than supporting cultural traditions of residents they took away the means for them to continue.

“It is an integral part of worship and if properly maintained should last for future generations and be part of religious ceremonies for the next hundred years.”

A council spokesperson said: “It’s important that planning permission is granted before any works commenced or statues erected. This is to ensure a consistent approach and the safety of all those who work, live and visit the borough.

“We of course support Kali Amman Hindu temple celebrating Diwali however we would be failing in our duty of care to not address a 6m tall chariot statue erected without planning permission.

“We have since advised an alternative site be found to store the chariot. We must balance our support for residents’ cultural traditions with our obligation to ensure planning regulations are met.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The temple recently opened its doors to the community for its Diwali celebrations. Photo: Wendy J. Smith

On October 27 the temple celebrated Diwali – observed by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists – symbolising victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

Tamil Hindu worshippers were joined by councillors and representatives of different faiths and community groups for prayers, blessings, speeches, traditional dance and a community feast.