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Hinduism on rise in Australia: Will this persist?

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Hinduism in Australia
A ritual in Hinduism. Wikimedia
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Australia, March 3, 2017: In 2011 Census, Hinduism emerged as the fast growing religion in Australia. The factor behind it is largely the migration.

Reverend Albert Lange rechristened himself as Bhakta Dasa in 1979 was disillusioned with Christianity, thus,  converted into Hinduism.

“I was an atheist before I found my truth in the Hare Krishna movement,” he said.

Mr Dasa is now the national communications director for International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON Australia.

5000-year-old Hinduism religion has drawn many Australians like Mr. Dasa.

Hinduism in Austrlia:

Meanwhile, Census watchers, predict that  Hinduism will overtake Islam (2.7 per cent), despite the increase in the number of Australians nominating Islam as their religion (from 2.2 per cent to 2.6 per cent of the population).

The rationale behind this phenomenon is many Indian settling in Australia. In last two decades past June 2014, there’s been four fold increase in Indian residents.

But, native Australians are also gravitating towards Hinduism, stated Mr Dasa.

“The Hindu way of life, with vegetarianism, karma and spirituality as its tenets, has never been more popular in the western world,” he said.

Rath Yatra or Chariot festival is the highlight of Australian Hindu Calendar.

The adorned idol of God Krishna, or Jaggannath (Lord of the Universe) is seen in the festival. He steps out of the sanctum of his temple in Albert Park onto the streets of Melbourne.  In order to symbolise the reestablishment of the connection with the God, the ropes of his cart are pulled by thousands of devotees.

This year the festival drew more than 25,000 people to the Catani Gardens of St Kilda, reflecting Hinduism’s rising popularity in Australia.

Food such as prasadam (religious offering), Indian dance and music performances and Bhagwad Gita readings, attracted many non-Hindus to the event.

ISKCON temple is one of the many temples that cater to the religious needs of Hindus in Melbourne. Of the 51 Hindu temples in Australia, 19 are located in Victoria, belonging to different sects of Hindus that worship gods such as Ganesha, Durga, Hanuman and Shirdi Sai Baba.

Makrand Bhagwat, from the Hindu Council of Australia, says the number of temples in Melbourne has been gradually increasing over the years, exhibiting a proportional increase in the Hindu population of the state.

Australia’s biggest and one of its oldest Hindu temples- Shiva Vishnu temple – was laid in 1988 in Carrum Downs, in Melbourne’s south-east. Situated on almost six hectares of land, the temple is visited by more than 100,000 people a year.

The temple was built by the Hindus belonging to India and Sri Lanka predominantly, the temple offers religious accommodation to the migrants coming from southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as Fiji.

“We just needed a place to worship,” says Sivananthini Krishnamoorthy, a migrant from Sri Lanka who has been a part of the team that saw Shiva Vishnu temple take shape from scratch in a small shed.

Mrs Krishnamoorthy spoke that the Hindu temple at Carrum Downs is beyond a place of worship for the community in Melbourne – many Caucasians also visit and are learning Vedic Hindu scriptures in Tamil.

“Something that I never did as a child even in Sri Lanka,” she said.

She says that the temples of Melbourne had helped her family to reinvigorate a connection to their culture and tradition.

The Hindu temples of Melbourne come under the ambit of the Hindu Organisation of Temples Association that involves in many interfaith activities and provides spiritual services to Hindus across Australia.

The temple also becomes a spot for celebrating Diwali, Holi and New year also for naming ceremonies and weddings. Traditionally it is a first stop for Hindus on the arrival of a baby, or when moving into a new house or buying a car. Students and job seekers often flock there before a major exam or interview.

The Hindu Council of Australia liaises with government, while catching on to other organisations and institutions, for seeking fair representation of Hindus in the media.

Adding Hinduism as a religion option in the 2016 Census was done by the council says Mr Bhagwat.

“[The council], along with its partner organizations, ran a campaign in our networks to encourage the Hindu community to exercise this option,” he said. “We are very keen to see the outcome of the 2016 Census…and pretty confident that this [growth] trend will continue.”

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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Copyright 2017 NewsGram

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Why are Indian Hindus so concerned about their religion when they claim to be diverse and secular nation?

  • shiv

    Because of fanatic pigs like yourself sarfaraz. Hindus are very liberal and open minded, but that doesn’t mean we will willingly walk into the crematorium like your mullahs want us to do. Obviously not all muslims are fanatics, but unfortunately most would not mind if our way of life disappeared and we converted. The principal aim of your religion is to conquer the world. Hinduism’s principal aim is to achieve spiritual liberation and enlightenment. We are against our suicide and our murder which your book demands. For these reasons, we will never engage or even encourage violence, but we will not submit to your rapacious conquests. If any muslim wants peace, then peace be with them.

  • Sarfaraz A.

    Why are Indian Hindus so concerned about their religion when they claim to be diverse and secular nation?

  • shiv

    Because of fanatic pigs like yourself sarfaraz. Hindus are very liberal and open minded, but that doesn’t mean we will willingly walk into the crematorium like your mullahs want us to do. Obviously not all muslims are fanatics, but unfortunately most would not mind if our way of life disappeared and we converted. The principal aim of your religion is to conquer the world. Hinduism’s principal aim is to achieve spiritual liberation and enlightenment. We are against our suicide and our murder which your book demands. For these reasons, we will never engage or even encourage violence, but we will not submit to your rapacious conquests. If any muslim wants peace, then peace be with them.

Next Story

Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?

Should rivers be considered Living Entities?

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Right of Nature
Many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

By Dr. Bharti Raizada, Chicago

Science says that water bodies are not living entities, as water does not need food, does not grow, and reproduce. Water is required for life, but in itself it is nonliving.

However, many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

The Maori tribe in New Zealand considers the Whanganui River as their ancestor and the Maori people fought to get it a legal status as a living being. In 2017, a court in New Zealand gave this river the status of living being and same rights as humans, to protect it from pollution. Thus, now if someone pollutes in it then it is considered equivalent to harming a human.

ALSO READ: Worshiping mother nature part of our tradition: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Right of Nature
Rivers are sacred in many religions, including Hinduism. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

Rivers are sacred in Hinduism also. Hindus believe that the Ganga descended from heaven and call her Ganga Maa. A few days after New Zealand’s court decision, Uttarakhand high court in India gave the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries the status of living human entities. The Court-appointed three officials as legal custodians. However, the court did not clarify many aspects related to this decision.

After this verdict some of the questions, which naturally came to mind, were:

Can Hindus still do rituals of flowing ashes, leaves, flowers, diyas in river or no? Can a dam be built on the river after this judgment? If some damage, to a person, animal, plants, or property, occurs because of river e.g. overflow, hurricanes, flooding etc., how the river will pay the liabilities? What if all rivers, oceans, ponds etc. are given the status of living beings? Will drinking water from river become a crime? What about taking water and using it for routine needs,  agriculture or building structures? Will it be illegal? If a child throws a stone in water, will it be a criminal act? Will fishing be considered stealing? What about boating? If someone is using heat near water and water evaporates, is it equal to taking the body part of a human being? What about taking a bath in the river?

Right of Nature
If the river gets a living status, as human, then we cannot use it for anything without its permission, so everyone has to stop touching the water. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: Decoding supernatural: What is the nature of entities and gods who influence human behavior

Other queries, which arise, are:

Will animals and plants get the same status? What if you kill an ant or a chicken etc. or cut a tree? Will all animals and plants get a legal custodian?

Where is all the waste supposed to go? It has to go somewhere back in nature, right?

Uttrakhand state government challenged the judgement in Supreme Court and the latter reversed the judgment.

Right of Nature
So where do we stand? In my opinion, granting living status to nature is a different thing than giving protected status or preserving nature. Image by Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: How nature destroys the negative tendencies in a positive manner

Ecuador’s constitution recognized the Right of Nature to exist, specifically Vilcabamba river, in 2008.

Then Bolivia passed the law of the right of mother earth and granted Nature equal rights as humans.

Many communities in the U.S.A. passed the Right of Nature law.

These laws are creating a dilemma or quandary also, as people need to use these resources. We cannot live without using natural resources. However, there is a difference between using natural resources and afflicting or destroying these. So, please use natural resources very diligently. Try not to vitiate nature.

On World Water Day (March 22), please start taking care of rivers, so that there is no need for future celebrations. It should not be a one-day celebration anyway, we should scrupulously look out for nature all the time.

Dr. Raizada is a practicing anesthesiologist.