Toronto, Sep 22 (IANS) Hundreds of Sikhs gathered at a ceremony for the start of construction of a new Gurudwara in Guelph city, Ontario.

“The ceremony marked the beginning of a building process that starts now (Monday) and should take about nine months to complete,” Guelph Mercury newspaper quoted Ravi Rai, spokesperson for the Guelph Sikh Society, as saying.

“The estimated cost of the building is seven million Canadian dollars (US $5.3 million),” he added.

Rai said 200,000 Canadian dollars (US $150,000) were raised over the weekend while hundreds of thousands of dollars had been donated by devotees previously.

About 5.1 million Canadian dollars (US $3.8 million) in loans have been secured.

At the ceremony, Rai also talked about the challenges the Sikh community has faced over the past two decades in the city, including acts of vandalism and prejudice.

“We deserve to have a place to worship where our elders can convene, where our children can learn,” he said.

The planning for the Gurudwara began five years ago but the Gurudwara construction faced opposition from Westminster Woods Residents’ Association who pressurised the Ontario Municipal Board to reject the proposal of construction.

The construction was approved after the challenge was dropped and the planning and designing work was started.