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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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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Walk2Temple Paad Yatra piligrimage

By: Sai Pravastu.
 
As the quote goes “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” similarly one man’s initiative to continue the tradition of pilgrimage in Australia has just reached a new milestone of 2 decades. 
 
It is true that, this year marks 20th year since this walk was started by one man to walk i.e. PAADA YATRA from Sri Murugan Temple in Westmead to Sri Sai Baba Temple in Strathfield. Friend and relatives started joining him and in a couple of years they progressed this yatra beyond Sai Baba mandir in Strathfield to Sri Venkateshwara Temple in Helensburgh. It is crazy to even think whether this journey by foot, especially back in the day, but hey who are we kidding, the discovery of this great land has been tied to a human discovery mostly over a walk. 
 
 
It is a HINDU tradition to “walk to a pilgrim” on special events / occasions and during in some festive seasons. it is known as “PAADA YATRA” and this is a general practice in HINDUISM and this is done across in Bharath i.e. INDIA.
 
LETSGIVEHOPE has been organising this walk to the temple event called PAADA YATRA under the auspice of Hindu Council of Australia and now it is completely run by Hindu Council of Australia for a few years now, the  transition was necessary to keep the culture and tradition of pilgrimage alive for the future generation of Australian Hindus. It has many benefits that one would do a part of it everyday 
 
Journey
 
The distance between Westmead and Helensburgh is around 65kms. Since its such big distance which can’t be achieved in one day, at least for not everyone so we are planning to do this walk up to Heathcoate and take a bus to the temple and take the blessings and complete the pilgrim in a day. 
 
 
Every year we start the walk on Saturday of the October long weekend at 6:00am from Sri Murugan Temple in westmead and have our first stop at Strathfield Sai Baba Mandir and we leave from strathfield Sai Baba temple and reach Heathcote completed the walk to Sri Venkateshwara Temple, Helensburgh.
 
Every year volunteers of this event have taken utmost care and diligence to needs of the yatris (walkers) this year we over 250 walkers have joined us at Sri Murugan Temple in Westmead for the first part of the walk and we associate this walk to some charity or cause every year and this year is no different, we walked for the BIG DRY, to support for our Aussie Farmers. 
 
 
Some participants only walk up to Sri Sai Mandir (Strathfield) where as some others join us from Sri Sai Mandir to Sri Venkateshwara Temple. We have a regular group which joins us from Canberra and one family joined us from Dubbo as well this year, our youngest walker this year was Yatin (10 year old) and couple of young teenagers too in completing the full walk, we also had a 3 month old girl who participated as well carried by her dad some time and pushed in pram by her mum,  along side others i.e. up to Sri Sai Mandir (Strathfield). Walk was kicked off by Dr Hugh McDermott, MP along with Samir Pandey Parramatta councilor and Susai Benjamin from Blacktown along with our ace walker Murali Konneru. 
 
Route in Brief
1. Sri Murugan Temple to Sri Sai Baba temple around 15 kms)
2. Sri Sai Mandir to Heathcoate (around 30 Kms)
 
Vision 
Our vision is to keep our tradition and culture alive and at the same time organise the event properly so many others can participate the tradition. Doing it over the long weekend will make it even better for people and it coincides with a festivals in the temple. We are yet to get full walk permission from government authorities , but we are very hopeful that very soon we will get this approved and we can complete the walk in full. 
 
This is event is to keep our tradition of walking to pilgrimage and is not promoting any commercial activity, we tie this auspicious walk to a noble cause and hope to pass it to your future generation to continue this unique tradition in this wonderful multi cultural land.
 
On behalf of Hindu Council of Australia and PAADA YATRA team we congratulate all participants and wish to see you all who are reading this article to participate in the walk next year.
 
 
Participants were issued certification of completion of the walk at the end of their walk and we sold special edition shirts to raise the needed funds for drought affected farmers.
 
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Bhadrachalam deities arriving in Sydney soon

By: Sai Pravastu.
It is of great joy and delight to let everyone know that the utsava moortis Lord Sri Rama along with Sita Devi, Lakshamana and Anjeyanaya swamy are for the first time coming to Sydney from the ancient and famous Sri SitaRama temple of Bhadrachalam which is on the banks of mighty Godavari river. 
 
On this festive occasion two significant events are planned – SitaRama Kalyanam and SriRama Pattabhishekam. 
 
While Sri SitaRama Kalyanam is a blessing for every household, Sri Rama Pattatbhishekam is a blessing for entire world. Please do participate in large numbers along with your family and your friends, praise, pray, sing and dance in the name of Sri SitaRama and get filled with joy and happiness.
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Mr Sharat Kumar one of the first priests of Sri Mandir passes away

Shri Sharat Kumar Ji passed away last Wednesday.

He arrived in Australia in mid 1970s. He had studied at Gurukul in Hardwar, India. He was highly knowledgeable in Gita and other Hindu scriptures. Also he had a deep knowledge of Hindu Samskars and Puja formalities.

In late 1970 and 1980s when we did not have qualified Hindu priests, he used to perform Pujas at Sri Mandir and at people’s houses. He was living in Wollongong as he was working as a Librarian at the Wollongong University. He would travel to Sydney to perform Pujas. He would never charge for his services.

He was the most thorough gentleman. Never heard anything harsh from him about anybody. He would address everybody “Bhaiji”. He had tried to pass on the Gita recitation to his children and grand children.

May God Almighty bestow Peace to his noble soul.

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Religions meet for Peace in NSW

By: Vijai Singhal.

The Religions for Peace, NSW Chapter meeting was held on 20 August 2018 in Hon Walt Secord’s Office, NSW Parliament House. Meeting was sponsored by the Hon Walt Secord, Deputy Opposition leader in theNSW Legislative Council (Upper House) Shadow Minister for Health, NSW State Parliament House.

Josie Lacey OAM presided over the meeting. The topic for discussion was “Mysticism in my Religion”. Reverend PravrajikaGayatriprana, President of Shri Ramakrishna Sarada Vedanta Society of NSW spoke on the subject for the Hindu Faith.

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Significance of Sri Sitarama Bhadrachalam

रामो रामो राम इति प्रजनामभवन् कथााः | रामभूिं जिभूद्रमे राज्यं प्रशासति ।
तनत्यपश्ु पा तनत्यफलास्िरवस्र तनर्व्नर ााः | कामवशी च पजन्र याः सखु स्पशश्र च मारुिाः ।
Sri Vaalmeeki Ramayana – Yuddha Kanda – CXXVIII. 103, 104

Under Sri Rama’s rule, people rejoiced everywhere hailing Rama ! Rama! Rama! in jubilation
and recounting his deeds; it looked as if the entire universe was infused with Sri Rama naama;
nature was always in full blossom; rains were plenty and timely; weather was pleasant with
soothing wind breeze .
***
It is of great joy and delight to let everyone know that the utsava moortis Lord Sri Rama along
with Sita Devi, and Lakshamana are, for the first time, coming to Sydney from the ancient and
famous Sri SitaRama temple of Sri Bhadrachalam which is on the banks of mighty Godavari
river. On this festive occasion two significant events are planned – SitaRama Kalyanam and
SriRama Pattabhishekam. While Sri SitaRama Kalyanam is a blessing for every household, Sri
Rama Pattatbhishekam is a blessing for entire world. Please do participate in large numbers
along with your family and your friends, praise, pray, sing and dance in the name of Sri
SitaRama and get filled with joy and happiness.

To better appreciate the significance of the event we bring you a brief blurb on the temple
town of Bhadrachalam,rom where the moortis are coming, and the significance of utsava
moortis.

About Bhadrachalam

Bhadrachalam has a unique history. The mountain Bhadra-Adri or Bhadra-achalam, from
which the place derives its name, is part of India’s gigantic mountain range popularly eastern
ghats. In treta yuga Sri Sita Rama along with Lakshmana stayed in the jungles of Dandakranya
( part of eastern ghats) as part of their eleven year vanavaasa. The mighty Godavari river and
the beautiful and bountiful dandakaranya served as his abode during the period. The
parnashala where Sita was abducted is also on the same hills. The mountains were also home
of Rishi Bhadra who worshipped Lord Rama and conducted an intense penance. Rama pleased
with Bhadra promised he would visit on the way back to Ayodhya. However this visit was not
materialized in Rama avatara’s time. However, Rishi Bhadra continued his tapas and his prayers
reminded Lord Vishnu of his promise to Rishi Bhadra. True to his nature, Lord Vishnu rushed
to his devotee in the form of Vaikuntha Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana and blessed Rishi
Bhadra and manifested themselves as moortis on the mountain. The mountain got to be known
as Bhadraachalam after the Rishi Bhadra since.

These moortis, per legend, were revealed themselves to a tribal woman named Pokala
Dammakka who was an ardent devotee of Rama. She preserved the idols and waited for the
blessed one to construct a proper temple.

That blessed was Kancharla Gopanna(1621-1680) popularly known as Bhakta Ramadasu. When
Ramadasu, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, found out about the Sri Rama moortis in the
remote tribal lands he moved heaven and earth to build temple at the Bhadrachalam temple
in 1674 AD. His devotion on Lord Rama was outpoured in 300 odd exquisite devotional songs
set in Carnatic style. Later in the century these compositions inspired in Sri Thyagaraja and
improvised on the krithi form introduced by Ramadasu.

Thus the Bhadrachalam was home to three spiritual gaints – Rishi Bhadra, Pokala Dammakka,
and Bhakta Ramadaasu. It is from this sacred site that the utsava moortis are coming to Sydney.
Significance of Utsava Moortis

According to the Shilpa Shastra ( the engineering principles of sculptures ) the moorthis in
temples are broadly classified into two – achala ( immoveable) and chala (movable). The moorti
of the principal diety is usually acahala (immovable) and is called Dhruva bera. Dhruva bera
resides in the sanctum ( garbha gruha) and is the recipient of the main worship. The chala –
bera ( movable moorthis) are of five types hence the name pancha bera. These five chala-beras
moortis are used in various ceremonial forms of worship in and around the temple.

These are:
• Kautuka (कौिकु ) bera is a miniature replica of the dhruva bera and is used in nitya (
daily) pooja
• Snapana (स्नपन) bera receives the naimittika (special occasion) poojas and
adbhishekams
• Shayana (शायन) bera receives the resting upacharas
• Utsava (उत्सव) bera receives the pooja when taken out in procession
• Bali (बतल) bera is taken out when offerings are made to gods and to the pancha bhoota
( elements)

All the above pancha bera are considered as an integral part of the main moorti – dhruva bera
and are deemed as emanating from it. These chala bera moortis in the temple that are
worshipped each day during the ritual sequences are but the variations of the adi murti. As
per shashtras each of the pancha bera map to five types of sacred vedic agnis and also
correspond to the five primordial elements – aakasha, vaayu, agni, aapah, pruthivi.

Therefore these different moortis represent unique aspects of the dhruva moorti, in various forms. The tejas of the main moorti steps into each of the chala moorti during various stages of worship. Though When worship sequences are conducted the tejas moves into kautuka and snapana and so on. The tejas takes a symbolic stride into utsava moorti and reaches us all when they are taken out in procession. On a lighter note it is said, because we are so mired in our daily vocations and have no time to time to go the temple, Lord himself comes out in procession and enquires about our well being.

All of us may not be fortune enough visit Lord Rama at Bhardrachalam, therefore make use of this splendid opportunity to pray, rejoice and submit ourselves at the feet of Sri Bhadrachala Rama who is coming for us all the way from Bharata Varsha. His mere presence is ‘jagadananda karaka’.

JAI SREE RAM

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