Durga Puja celebrated in Darwin Australia

By: Shashi Khanna.

MA DURGA’S BLESSINGS AT DARWIN,NT

Cultural Harmony at Harmony Hall , Darwin! 

October 13,2018 another cultural and religious initiative by the Indian community at Darwin. The occasion was the Durga Puja, first time celebrated at this magnanimous scale. The Puja & Durga society of Northern Territory was the organising body but a beautiful amalgam of all cultures and regions was witnessed at this beautifully managed event .
 Goddess Durga in her various incarnations of mother ,’Ma’ as affectionately called in Indian culture adorned a huge stage. The colourful , bright radiant stage with beautiful Rangoli ( the welcome symbols made as floor decorations with bright colours and flowers) welcomed all to a packed hall. Kum Kum and artistic paint work done on every lady who entered the hall clad in colours of red. Red colour in Indian attire being the dress code, one could see blooming ladies, chirpy girls swaying in bright Indian dresses. 
 

Darwin, NT, Australia 2018

 
Red being the Colour of holiness, vibrance,jubilation and prosperity in Indian mythology is worn usually by married women who are considered to be the symbol of all prosperity ( Goddess of Lakshmi). 
 
Durga Puja ,the 9 days of celebration of ‘Navratri ‘ is observed twice in a year .One in spring and this one in autumn, welcoming two seasons winters and summers. ‘Nau’ means nine in Hindi is celebrated for nine days .  The eighth day observed as ‘Ashtami’ when young girls are worshipped, celebrating the birth of a girl. To respect and regard the womenfolk of our families and society, giving them equality and honouring them for their mother hood.  Durga Puja celebrated in various parts of India has different rituals but eminently celebrated in Bengal, Gujarat and North India. 
 
Navratri also observed as fasting days for detoxification for our system, special kind of foods are eaten during these fasting days which ends on ‘Ashtami’ Pujan ,the eight day. Then ninth day as Ram navmi’ and tenth day as ‘ Dusshera’ when Lord Rama killed Ravana, as the mythological story says. 
 
Durga Puja is also celebrated as victory of good over evil. It’s not only the physical evil but the evils ,the devil inside us all, to win over the personality flaws of greed, lust,anger, ego and disillusion. To monitor and control ourselves for our righteousness and for a healthy society filled with respect, love, compassion and harmony amongst all. 
 
The event at Harmony Hall had divine aura of Ma blessing all devotees from various cultures and backgrounds. It seemed like Mini India gathered here. Women from Haryana, Uttrakhand in the north to Chennai and Bangalore in the south, from Rajasthan in the west to Bengal and Assam in the east. Our neighbours from Bangladesh, beautifully dressed participated with zeal and enthusiasm. The luscious Bengla sweets further honeyed the atmosphere when Prasad was distributed with variety of Bengal sweets, all home made ( important to mention). 
 
Puja and Archana was recited by the priest with flowers offered to the Goddess Durga and surrender to Almighty. 108 lamps lighted at the feet of Ma Durga with fruits , flowers and sweets for bhog. Durga Stuti and Saraswati Vandana was melodiously sung by an aged woman which was appreciated by all. Beautiful flower wall had many selfie clicks and added a beautiful background. 
 
Beats of the Dhol and drums swayed all to dance in devotion. The sound of rhythmic clapping captured the atmosphere, seemed like to outreach to Goddess residing in every soul promising to celebrate the journey of life and human birth. 
A sumptuous meal followed which was relished by all concluding with yummy Bengali sweets special ‘ Rasgulla ,Sandesh and Khir. 
 
A lively cultural program followed which was meticulously crafted for the occasion. Every day Navratri Puja is being held at the Hindu temple in Malak area of Darwin, Northern Territory for these 9 days.
 
This whole  day of Durga Puja celebration overtook my soul and how much I thanked ‘Ma’ , my family and myself for being able to witness this grandeur celebration in this far far land of Australia. I couldn’t believe, to see the spirit of participation, hard efforts and planning to solemnize the worship of Ma Durga who is beyond any caste , religion,culture and boundaries of land or ocean. To conclude , I must acknowledge ,how proud and overwhelmed I was of my rich Indian cultural roots which has deep significance to the core of human existence and blending values in its uniqueness. 
 
Thankyou so much Hindu council for allowing me to put my intense emotions into words. I’m grateful to the Puja & Cultural society of NT for this memorable day which I’ll carry across the world through social media platforms. 

Labour MPs condemn temple attack

Labour Mps Message - Regents Park Temple - 2018

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

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/

The temple has also set up a GoFundMe campaign at
https://www.gofundme.com/bhartiyemandirsydney?fbclid=IwAR3TQZn-5e2OP58PzncK5no495hRy99n8BuDq5SpQqwRaInvIGflsqWskxc

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 :

  • Victoria Bismire

It’s terrible that someone did this to you – Australia is better than this. Hope this helps with the restorations.

 

I stand with the Hindu community

I was horrified to see the awful damage to your holy place.

I am so sorry that this has happened.

Even though I am an agnostic, I firmly believe in the freedom to practise one’s faith. This vandalism was completely unacceptable. Shame on the perpetrators.

As an atheist who strongly believes in a multicultural and pluralist community free of religious bigotry and violence, I am proud to stand with our Hindu community.

I stand in solidarity with the Hindu Community.

I saw the sbs news article and was sad to see such a thing happen. Whilst I’m not religious I wish your temple well

COVERAGE BY AUSTRALIAN MEDIA