An auspicious beginning of first SRE Hinduism class by Hindu Council

By : Madya Lila.

On the auspicious occasion of Dusshera, Hindu Council of Australia began its first Hindu Special Religious Education (SRE) program at Sydney Girls High School. Genedine Sionillo, a volunteer teacher from the Australian School of Meditation & Yoga led the class which was very well received by all the students. They especially enjoyed Genedine’s introduction to Bhagavad Gita. The SRE classes at Sydney Girls High School will continue each Friday for the remainder of the school term.

What is SRE?

Special religious education (SRE) is the beliefs and practices of an approved religious persuasion delivered by authorised representatives of that persuasion. It is the distinctive religious tenets and beliefs of the home and family, provided by the churches and other religious groups for children of parents expressing the desire that they receive such teaching.

The NSW Government, through legislation and related policy, recognises the diversity of Australian society and supports parental choice in educating children about their faith. The delivery of Special Religious Education (SRE) is managed by religious persuasions, which are approved as SRE providers by the Department of Education.

SRE is mandated by the Education Act (1990) and gives parents the choice to have children formed in the faith of their family. Section 32 of the Education Act says that ‘In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion.’

The provision of SRE is not funded by government.

The Hindu Council of Australia is registered as an authorised provider of SRE with the NSW Department of Education.

In 2019, HCA will provide Hindu SRE classes in a further six high schools in the Sydney area and will continue to expand the program over the coming years.

If you would like to volunteer to teach Hindu SRE classes, or if you would like to sponsor the cost of teaching materials please contact us at sre@hinducouncil.com.au   

 

By Veena.svg: Sreejithk2000derivative work: Gringer (talk) – Veena.svg, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11886656

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Labour MPs condemn temple attack

Labour Mps Message - Regents Park Temple - 2018
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Hindu Council condemns attack at Hindu Temple in Sydney

Hindu Council of Australia expresses its pain on learning of the vandalism that occurred at the Hindu Temple in Regents Park on Sunday, 14 October 2018. Unfortunately it happened in the most holy period of Navaratri in Hindu calendar.  The vandalism has caused lot of pain and anguish to the devotees.

We do not have enough information to know if the vandalism was a criminal act or a protest against multi-cultural Australia. More than 30 Deities and other accessories were broken. The financial cost of replacing the deities and rebuild temple will be in many thousands of dollar, but the emotional cost will be much higher.

HCA requests the police to investigate this matter and clarify the intent of the perpetrators. Considering the room for confusion such incidences can cause and hurt the multi-cultural fabric of the Australian society, we urge the police to investigate the matter considering other than just the financial cost to repair the damages. 

HCA offers its assistance to meet with the perpetrators if they have done this in ignorance of our beliefs as it effects their way of life.

The Hindu community sincerely hopes that such incidences do not occur in future. HCA offers all the help that is needed to inform the wider community about Hindu beliefs and practices so that such incidences do not happen due to ignorance.

HCA appeals to the wider Australian community to support the affected community and help them to rebuild the temple and ease their pain.

 

 

Prakash Mehta

National President,

Hindu Council of Australia

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An Old Hindu Temple desecrated by Vandals in Sydney

A Hindu Temple situated at Regents Park in Sydney Australia has been set on fire and all statues and icons of Indian Godheads have been smashed and left in ruin. They do not know who has done it but it has caused lot of pain and anguish to devotees celebrating the festival NavRatri or nine nights dedicated to worship of God in female form. Popularity of the NavRatri period for Hindus can be compared to popularity of Christmas to Christians but it continues for a period of nine days to worship nine different form of female Shakti or source of power or God manifest as and in this world.

The temple has been there for about twenty years and but for an incident of stone throwing ten years ago, the Fiji Hindu community has not had any problems until now. During the period of nine days, Hindu hold regular Prayer sessions in the evening. When devotees came at 6pm to open the temple on Sunday evening 14th October 2018, they found smoke coming from inside their temple. Upon investigation, they found some people inside and when challenged, the miscreants jumped out of the window and vanished.

 

The head priest of the temple Pandit Paras Ram Maharaj was in tears on seeing his Gods broken and strewn all over the floor. The Vandals had not only desecrated the God statues and icons but had also shamelessly thrown prayer material around. They had even set the alter on fire. Luckily the fire was quickly brought under control before it could do any further damage to the temple and the building. The temple is visited regularly by about 250 devotees who come from all over Sydney including from places as fas away as Penrith.

After serial coup in Fiji, a large number of Fijians of Indian descent had migrated to Australia. About twenty years ago, some of them collected funds while others put their homes on mortgage to raise funds and purchased an old Anglican church building. The devotees were all Hindus and brought their own Hindu icons to install in their new temple. Being an old church building, the building has a typical church architecture with lead glass color tinted windows and a wooden cross which is almost a part of the wall.

 

God is one. People worship HIM in different forms

Although as owners of the building, they could have removed previous faith symbols, the temple committee decided not to remove or dismantle old christian symbols. They placed their Gods beside these symbols and started their worship in their new temple. There is only one God and different people worship HIM in different forms believe Hindus. So, how could these Hindus show any disrespect for the symbols of God worshiped by HIS earlier and different devotees.

 

 

 

Hindu Temple in Reagents Park

The young girl broke in tears and asked me, when we respect their symbols of God so much, why have they desecrated our forms of God. This sobbing young girl had spent countless hours in decorating the temple which has now become a crime scene with broken glass strewn all over.

Her mother who had come to the temple with her other friends ready to do the prayer of the fifth day of nine days was in a state of shock. Nav Ratri prayers are done together communally and now there is no place left to conduct prayers. Quickly, the kitchen building next door was vacated and converted into a make shift temple to continue the most important rituals of the day. The police came and did their forensic work and left at 2am next morning.

The big worry we have now, said the temple president is to restore the temple building back to its earlier glory. We will rebuild the temple he said with a determination, we are not going to go away, this is our home too. Australia is a very fair society. Australians have given us shelter and freedom to practice our religion. A few miscreants among them can not scare us away. Other committee members had more pressing thoughts and were discussing practical matters like how shall we raise funds to restore our place of worship. 

Donations to reestablish the previous glory of the temple can be made at https://bhartiyemandirsydney.org/donations/

It is time that Australians of all walks of life show their solidarity with these new Australians.

It is time for leaders of all faiths to come in their support and condemn this criminal act by a few vandals who do not represent fair dinkum Australia.

It is time for elected local, state and federal representatives to come and wipe the tears of that young girl and assure her that you are also a valuable part of our society and are free to practice your faith.

It is time that state and federal Parliaments pass a resolution condemning this disgraceful act.

If it has happened to one temple today, it may happen to other places of worship tomorrow.

Lets make sure it never happens again.

Lets keep Australia fair.

Hindus in anguish

AUSTRALIA CONDEMNS

Australian Leaders Condemn this shameful act :

 

COVERAGE BY AUSTRALIAN MEDIA

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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ACU Interfaith Breakfast highlights

Australian Catholic University had organized an Interfaith Breakfast meeting at the NSW Parliament House on 17th October 2018. The meeting was well attended by over 200 invitees including Premier of NSW, Minister for Multiculturalism, ex-premium Hon John Faye AC (and now a chancellor of ACU) and about 35 other MPs. Almost all religions of Australia including Hindus and Sikhs were represented there.

The Premier of NSW Honourable Gladys Berejiklian addressed the gathering recollecting her Armenian background. She applauded that such a diversity of religions and cultures was present there to have a dialogue among themselves and to have a dialogue with elected representatives. She was proud to see the diversity which is not seen in other places in the world.  Its good for framing public policies that initiative for change is coming from the faith leaders. As Australia is increasingly becoming secular, discussions with faith leaders on important issues will result in better policies.

Hon John Faye AC expressed his happiness at the growing number of religions in Australia. He said that separation of State and Church does not mean that religious persuasions should be ignored and that they have an important role to play in getting better outcomes from their Governments. He noted the success of Australia’s multiculturalism that religious diversity has not lead to fights but has rather enriched the Australian culture.

Mr Luke Foley, Leader of Opposition said that the separation of state and church means that state should not impose “a” religion but it also does not mean that religion should have no say in shaping state policy. He lamented that some core values are under attack due to excessive individualism, self-centredness, capitalism and materialism. Our society and families are changing as more children are being raised without the presence of a father figure in the family and we are getting drenched in excessive celebrity culture.  He said that people often get criticized for bring their faith to the parliament but religion is what gives us our values and it would be naive and irresponsible to drive religion out of the public square.

Ms Janice Petersen an SBS Journalist said that there are sixty eight million refugees in the world and it is the religion that offers that solace, social acceptance and hope. Census shows that people in Australia are drifting away from religion and it is good to see that many religious leaders are becoming pro-active. She advised religious leaders that in order to get coverage on SBS, they should scrutinize current issues (like Gay teachers rights, refugee issues etc), formulate a policy response to them and have a spokesperson ready to speak on them.

The Interfaith meeting received 20 prayers/readings from different religions that include :

  • Ahmadiyya Muslim
  • Anglican
  • Baha’i
  • Buddhism
  • Latter-Day Saints
  • Congregational
  • Druze
  • Engaged Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Lutheran
  • Quakers
  • Roman Catholic
  • Russian Orthodox
  • Seventh-Day Adventist
  • Sikh
  • Sukyo Mahikari
  • Unitarian
  • Uniting Church

Towards the end, five religious prayers were read by their representatives. Hinduism prayer verse 10,191:2,3,4 from Rig Veda were read by Pandit Ramachandra Athreiya Rama.

Hindus were represented by Pandit Ramachandra and Pandit Rami from Australian Hindu Clergy as well as Surinder Jain and Dr Nihal Agar from Hindu Council of Australia.

 

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Hindu chaplains help a Hindu women in prison

Hindu chaplaincy committee was contacted by another religions Chaplain to help a Hindu prison inmate with a beads mala and some religious books.

Somesh Sibal from Hindu Council got in touch and is sending the books. Mala has already been provided by a Buddhist Chaplain. Somesh Ji will stay in touch for any further help that may be required.

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Exhibition on Vietnam Hindu Cham Brahman Community Opens

An exhibition featuring the 2018 Kate Festival, the most important annual celebration of the ethnic Cham Brahman community, opened in the central province of Ninh Thuan on October 8.

On the occasion, Mukha Linga and Po Long Girai statues, along with Nandin, Patil, and Banal sacred bulls, costumes, and musical instruments were introduced to the public, contributing to maintaining, preserving, and upholding values of national cultural heritage. 

Le Xuan Loi, Director of the Research Centre for Cham Culture in Ninh Thuan, said the display aims to popularise the unique culture of the Cham ethnic group in Ninh Thuan amongst domestic and foreign visitors. 

On the occasion of Kate festival 2018, antique collectors from across the nation and abroad donated 14 valuable objects of different materials and dates to the centre, which offer visitors an insight into the iron casting, pottery making, and fabric weaving of the Cham people. 

Since 2010, the centre has received over 900 valuable artifacts from antique collectors.

Source: vietnamtourism.com

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ARRCC members pledge for eating less Meat

By : Surinder Jain.

ARRCC – Australian Religious Response to Climate Change is a multi faith network committed to action on Climate Change. Hindu Council of Australia has been a member for more than ten years and has recently celebrated 10th Anniversary of its Eat Less Meat campaign.

Members of ARRCC in Sydney met on 13th October 2018 to celebrate 2018 Week of Living the Change. It is a week in which members make personal commitments on making changes in their lives that will help the environment.

IPCC has recently identified three major causes of climate change and they are

  • Fossil fuels
  • Transport and
  • Agriculture

and the solutions to alleviate the effects are

  • Use renewable energy
  • Cut down on transport that have a large carbon foot print and
  • Eat less meat.

It is the first time that climate change activists have come out openly and boldly to declare that Meat production is one of the major causes of climate change. Studies show that if we take all the action we need to take on fossil fuels and transport but neglect to do anything on Meat production, we will end up failing in stopping the catastrophic consequences.

YET, most climate change enthusiasts are hooked onto the first two and not paying due attention to the third cause of Meat being the final culprit. Perhaps because, it is easy to tell others to stop coal mining. It is happening somewhere far away and affects those few thousand jobs in rural hinterland only. To change our travel habits is somewhat more personal but a matter of pride and a little inconvenience. The technology and encouragement to do so is here and now and we can actually do it with small sacrifices.

However, to change one’s food habits and taste is very personal and perhaps one of the most difficult things to do. It involves the livelihood of not a few thousand Australians but of millions of Australians who produce meat and are also the backbone of rural and national economy. No one seems to have defined a transition path for these proud farmers to help them change from Meat to Plant based food production. It needs to be done on an urgent basis.

If we take Meat out of Australian diet, we will be left with a very poor, unbalanced diet which can be a cause of many deficiencies. Hindus who have been vegetarians for thousands of years and have adopted their cuisine and living style to a vegetarian diet and are thriving (there are over a billion in India alone) have a special responsibility to keep Australian cuisine healthy and balanced as they move towards lesser meat consumption.

The meeting was presided over and addressed by Thea Ormerod who invited everyone to make a commitment to make a change in their lives that will reduce their carbon foot print. This was followed by an address of Mr Atmarama Das (Andre), Director Govinda Valley Retreat. He explained how he got revolted by having to work on a fishing boat chopping fishes and on coming to the shore forever became a vegetarian and joined Hare Krishna movement. The movement taught him that we are not the owners of this creation or even a small piece of it.

This was followed by an address by Rev John Buchanan, Minister at the Presbyterian parish of St Peter’s, North Sydney. Rev John read from the bible that we are stewards of God’s creation and it is our duty no to let it deteriorate and that is why we must fight the climate change.  Reverend told the audience that he has not become a vegetarian but has reduced his meat consumption. The third speaker Gillian Reffell from the Sydney Buddhist Center spoke about her struggle to balance her life with her carbon foot print.

The meeting was followed by other people present their making pledges to reduce their carbon foot print and was followed by a Reflective Interfaith Ritual.

Thea gave following information to help people make pledges to reduce their own carbon footprint :

Pledge

Kgs of carbon saved every year from going into atmosphere

Always use public transport to work 920 Kg/year
Avoid Air travel except for emergencies 460 Kg/year
Replace all home lights by LED 470 Kg/year
Make at least half of my meals meat free 470 Kg/year
Eat meat no more than once a week 640 Kg/year
Eat 5 vegetarian meals each week 690 Kg/year
Adopt an entirely plant-based diet 1,300 Kg/year

Hindu Council of Australia was represented by its directors Vijai Singhal and Surinder Jain. Hindus have a lot more at stake with climate change. We, after our death will come back in a new birth an this process will continue until we attain Liberation. Ensuring that earth remains livable is not only a noble thing to do but is also the only thing to do to our home for many many centuries and eons to come.

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Diwali coins by ABC Bullion to be sold at Parramatta and Martin Place Diwalis

ABC Bullion is Australia’s leading precious metals and bullion specialist, trading continuously since 1972.
For over 40 years, they have assisted clients of every level, to buy and sell gold bullion, silverplatinum and palladium. They have also been a supporter of Diwali festivals celebrated by Hindu Council of Australia for last twenty years.

This year, to commemorate 20 years of Deepavali celebrations and to commemorate Sri Sitarama Kalyanam being celebrated by Hindu Council of Australia, ABC Bullion has minted special coins depicting Limited edition 2018 Diwali coins of Sri Sita Rama Parivar. These coin sales will debut at our Diwali festivals of Martin Place and Parramatta.

Martin Place Diwali is being held in Sydney CBD at Martin Place on 31st October, 2018 and Parramatta Diwali and Sri Sitarama Kalyanam is being held at Parramatta Park on 3rd and 4th November 2018. These special coins can be purchased directly from ABC Bullion at these festivals.

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Breaking Bread with Indian Chapati in Sydney Food Festival

By:Surinder Jain.

Hindu Council of Australia participated in Breaking Bread with other Australian communities as an initiative of Food Faith during the ongoing Sydney Food Festival at Hyde Park Palms on 9th October 2018.

Food Faith is a not for profit organization promoting environmental and social sustainability. Sharing of bread and then breaking it to eat – Breaking Bread – is its initiative to bring communities together.

Hindu Council of Australia brought Indian Bread (Chapatis) which were distributed among more than a hundred people present there along with a Kangaroo grass bread from Staple Bakery, a Challah (Jewish bread) from Our Big Kitchen and Rustic panini from Bread and Butter Project.

The session started with an aboriginal elder explaining the value of Kangaroo grass seeds as a staple food for first Australians and as a staple crop before colonization of Australia. Other speakers talked about role of bread in religious ceremonies, how food and bread has changed over the years, ongoing research by universities on less popular slow going grains and how food can be a source of sustainable charitable businesses.

Judy Friedlander explained the concept behind the Breaking Bread initiative.

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