First Indian Born Hindu woman elected in Upper House Victoria

Hindus started migrating to Australia in 1970’s and after about 50 years of migration, they have established their roots in their new homeland. Nothing illustrates it more than a migrant and that too a woman getting elected in a Parliament.

Kaushalya Vaghela

Kaushaliya Virjibhai Vaghela is a Hindu Indian Australian politician. She has been a Labor Party member of the Victorian Legislative Council since 2018 and has recently been elected to represent Western Metropolitan Region[1] the first Indian Hindu woman to do so.

Kaushaliya confesses to be almost a Fanatic for Freedom, Fairness, Feminism, Food, Fitness, Fashion, Fun, Family & Friends. Having studied her B.Sc from Ahmedabad and M.Sc from Vadodra in India, she studied at RMIT, Melbourne and has established herself as a management expert as well. However, she felt humbled by winning the election and becoming an MLC.

In her previous role , she was advising Minister of Multicultural Affairs – Hon Robin Scott and acted as a bridge between Hindu community and the minister.
She helped a lot of Indian spiritual, cultural and other diaspora organizations in resolving their issues and getting government support in whatever form possible.

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Hindu chaplains help Hindu Women prisoners in Melbourne

By : Makaran Bhagwat, Melbourne.

Hindu Council of Australia (Vic) currently has volunteer spiritual care providers (Hindu Chaplains) who have been providing their services in the health care system and are now extending it to other areas include prisons.

The chaplains received following request from a female prison :

A Women’s Prison in Victoria : We currently have an Indian woman here  who follows Hinduism and she has requested to be linked in with someone from a Hindu Temple. It was suggested that you might be able to assist with organising someone to come in and meet with her. I am also seeking some advise in regards to her celebrating Shradh. She has requested specific food items for these celebrations, but I have not had much luck through the prison, so was hoping you might be able to direct me in regards to this as well.

 
We visited the Centre and had an opportunity to meet the 2 inmates requesting this meeting.
 
It appears that both of them have 2 main requirements / requests to be granted, which are related to the Hindu faith and Indian ethnicity, which Hindu Council of Australia  are able to fulfill.
 
We were told that in the multifaith chapel at the centre, while there were provisions for other faiths, there is nothing at present for the Hindu faith.
 
We can assist here by providing, religious texts, and also picture frames of Hindu Gods which can go on the Chapel wall to support their prayers.
 
Secondly, both of them were saying that the other inmates belonging to other  communities, could buy the food items of their taste and choice from the store within their weekly allowance. Unfortunately there is no Indian grocery available for them to cook food of their choice. Again on this point Hindu Council of Australia can assist by engaging with the Centre to identify some basic items, like spices, Basmati rice, lentils etc so that they can be purchased for their cooking needs.
 
In addition to this, for the forthcoming important Hindu festival “Diwali” ,the festival of lights, they would like to light a candle at the current interfaith place / chapel.
 
Overall it was a good visit and we have given them some printouts of the prayers, which can hopefully bring in some positive feeling in them in the current circumstances.
 
Makarand Bhagwat
Director
Hindu Council of Australia (Vic)

 

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Gargi Women Awards 2019

This award is given to Australian Women who have made a significant contribution to Australia.  This year, eight  awards are being offered, one in each of the following categories :

  1. Sports
  2. Defense, Police, Fire, emergency services
  3. Performing and Arts
  4. Community services
  5. Education
  6. Science and Research
  7. Language and Culture
  8. Journalism

Nominations are accepted online at hinducouncil.com.au/gargi

Closing date for nominations is 31st December 2018. If you are an Australian woman or know of an Australian woman,  who deserves the award, please nominate her.  Self nominations are also welcome and encouraged. The candidate should be :

  • A resident of Australia
  • Not an elected representative or an office bearer of a political party
  • Has not received any major award for this work yet
  • Believes in gender balance and democracy
  • Does not believe in Violence and does not believe in Religious Conversion

Selection will be made by a jury and awards will be announced and presented on International Women’s Day in March, 2019.

The purpose of these awards is to foster Integration between different communities in Australia and to recognize women who have remained unrecognized for their work and contribution.


 

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Hindu Women’s Issues Survey

If you are a Hindu woman living in Australia, please take a minute to enter this survey. It will help Hindu Council of Australia to frame projects and policies to face these issues.

Your Phone :

Your Age Group : 18-25 years26-35 years35-60 yearsAbove 60

How long ago did you come to Australia : Less than 2 years ago2 to 7 years ago7 to 15 years agomore than 15 years

What in your opinion are the major issues facing Hindu women in Australia : Domestic ViolenceHave to Work at Home as well OfficeAcceptance at work placeSocializing with non-Indian neighboursLanguage barrierSexual harassment at workRacial discrimination at workImparting sanskar to childrenDifficulty in keeping Hindu way of lifeOther

Do you work : YesNo

If working, did your family support you : YesNoNot Applicable

Is it easy to adjust to work culture here : YesNoNot Applicable

Do you get accepted socially at work : YesNoNot Applicable

Have you experienced/witnessed Domestic Violence : Yes, I have been a victimYes, Someone close to me has been a victimNo, Never

Did the victim of Domestic Violence get support : Yes, Sufficient supportYes, but not enoughNo SupportDon't Know

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Dowry abuse submission by Hindu Council of Australia

On 26 June 2018, the Senate of Australia (Upper house of Parliament) referred the practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 6 December 2018. The committee’s focus is on the broad issues raised in the terms of reference of the inquiry with a focus on explore the nature of dowry as a cultural practice, and the adequacy of current Australian policy settings and legal frameworks regarding dowry and dowry abuse.

Hindu Council of Australia has made a submission to the Committee.

A large number of submissions have been made and all of them can be viewed at

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/DowryAbuse/Submissions

HINDU COUNCIL SUBMISSION

www w.hinducouncil.com.au | Phone: 1300 HINDUS Fax: (02) 8208 9810| ACN 082 437 670
Head office: 17 The Crescent, Homebush, NSW 2140, AUSTRALIA
Hindu Council of Australia
Submission to Senate Inquiry into Dowry Abuse in Australia

Hindu Council of Australia (HCA) is a peak body organisation founded in 1998 with an aim to
preserve, promote and share Hindu religious values and culture in Australia. Since HCA was
founded, it has been acting as a representative of the Hindu community in Australia in dealing with
the federal, state and local governments, apart from reaching out to other Hindu organisations
and institutions.

Currently Hindu Council of Australia has established chapters in all the mainland states of Australia
and forty-two Hindu associations located in all states, are member of the HCA.
HCA is pleased to provide submission to this inquiry as follows:

1. The single largest cause of spouse mistreatment is due to the Australian immigration
processes. The processes are opaque and totally controlled by the sponsoring spouse. Admittedly
all the information is available online but as can be clearly seen it is not adequate for the spouses
who get trapped between a mistreating spouse and immigration procedures.

Our first strong submission is that once a marriage is verified to be legal:

(a) the migrating spouse
gets full and complete information about the sponsoring spouse,

(b) the migrating spouse is given
an option (probably for a small fee) to have a one-on-one consultation with a representative of
the High Commission or the Embassy about their legal rights, and

(c) the rights of the migrating spouse should be the same as the sponsoring spouse.

We again reiterate that the opacity, behaviour, and the processes of the department of
immigration is the single most important factor in the mistreatment of migrating spouses.

2. Unfortunately some Australian media have displayed a propensity towards Hindu bashing. In
the past HCA had to pursue several misreporting by the SBS with the tribunal. Dowry is not a part
of core Hindu beliefs and does not find any mention in the authentic Scriptures. The practice of
dowry is further confined to only a few communities in India. All the reform movements in India,
including HCA, are against the practice of dowry and no one will be more pleased than us if this
ugly practice disappears.

Our second strong submission is that please don’t make this Senate Enquiry a Hindu bashing
exercise. We say this because the setting of the enquiry draws heavily from ABC and SBS reporting
and please let that not colour the proceedings of the enquiry.

3. The role of the Hindu clergy is limited to performing rituals. If the clergy has any influence it is
due to their personal relationship with the community and not as clergy. A Hindu priest in general
has no role in family matters and especially in these complex matters that involve immigration
processes and family history.
 
Our third submission is that the Hindu Clergy be considered for what it is: responsible for rituals
and worship and not for any role within the family.

4. The frequent reference to Manu Smriti is baffling for us. Independent India made its own laws
with scant regard to Manu Smriti. Most of us hear about Manu Smriti the first time from the news
reports that have an anti-Hindu agenda. We say this because all the journalists know well that the
parts of Manu Smriti they quote are obsolete and find no connection with the present Hindu
society.

Our fourth submission is that the Hindu community in Australia is fully committed to the lawmaking
process in Australia and we will assist in whatsoever manner to make laws that prevent
spouse abuse. Please don’t get distracted by the journalists and “social” scientist with anti-Hindu
agenda. Hindus are fully committed to the laws of the land, no exceptions. We are confident of
pursuing our religion and culture and thriving in every society that makes its laws in a democratic
manner.

5. Male domination in any society is due to the poor education of women. In the Indian state of
Kerala, with almost hundred per cent education, there is a complete gender equality in the society.
In the regions with poor women education, the situation is the opposite. Indian women are taking
up education at a record rate, more than fifty per cent of students in professional courses in India
are now women.

Our fifth and final submission is that let the male domination theme be not used to run down our
culture and religion. We are working extremely hard to overcome our historical deficiencies. Hindu
bashing will be detrimental to this effort. The best way to correct gender power imbalance is to
encourage educated women to help other women and yet preserve the wonderful family structure
that the Indian society has created.

We look forward to cooperating with the Australian Parliament in making laws and establishing
processes which prevent the abuse of one human by another.

Thanks for giving us this opportunity to make our submission. We will be happy to make an inperson
presentation to the committee.

Kind Regards
Prakash Mehta
National President
Hindu Council of Australia, Email:
Mobile number: 17 August,
2018
Page 2 of 2
The practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia
Submission 57

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Nominate a woman for Gargi Award

Click here to find out more about Gargi Award and to nominate someone for the award. Self nominations are encouraged.

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Vedic woman – Where is She?

The Vedic Woman: Who Was She and Will She Return? After scouring the internet for hours, what I found left me seriously F R U S T R A T E D.

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The Indian-Australian millennials

ABC’s religion and ethics unit have published a story on why Indian-Australian millennials are choosing to have arranged marriages. Read about it here.

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Take a Poll on Dowry – Have your say

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Shakti initiative of Hindu American Foundation

Hindu American Foundation. www.hafsite.org. HAF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Namaste

WELCOME TO THE SHAKTI INITIATIVE!


Many years ago, I was invited to speak on a panel about women and religion. Armed with my senior thesis from undergrad — The Vedic Woman: Who Was She and Will She Return? — I was able to quickly pull together a long list of stories and scriptural quotes to bolster my own experience of finding strength and inspiration in Hindu teachings as a Hindu woman.

After the panel, a number of intrigued audience members approached me for online sources that they could read to learn more.  

I promised I’d get back to them. The truth is, I never did.

After scouring the internet for hours, what I found left me seriously F R U S T R A T E D.

There were the websites that were politically or religiously motivated — brimming with stereotypes and outright lies. They took scriptural quotes out of context and juxtaposed them with social evils afflicting women of all backgrounds in India to paint the ugly picture they sought to promote.  

Others were academic in nature, plagued with the same exoticizing and eroticizing with which we’re sadly all too familiar.

And then there were the well meaning, but confused ones where social customs and even wives’ tales were being passed off as religious mandates.

Frustration, however, can be a pathway to one of two things — anger or innovation.  

At HAF we’re fans of the latter.

And so —  on these auspicious first days of Gupt Navaratri — we welcome you to the Shakti Initiative: An accessible, online exploration of Hindu teachings about and by women the contributions of Hindu women throughout history; and the role both women and men play in bringing to fruition solutions that are grounded in Hindu teachings to address critical contemporary issues.  

My deepest hope for the Shakti Initiative when it was only a seed of an idea was that the life stories and contributions of some of the most remarkable women history has ever seen would inspire both women and men to get reacquainted with and reassert, in many facets of life where we have fallen short, the balance and harmony our traditions advocate for between the feminine and masculine.  

In turn, women and men will renew their commitment to work together to alleviate the suffering that has uniquely and disproportionately affected women in our society, and support one another so that all have access to their highest potential.  

In a small way, my hope is already manifesting.  

When I first proposed the idea at our National Team meet several years ago, nearly every hand shot up, either in support of the project or to join the Shakti writing team. Not only that, we’ve gotten new volunteers — young and not as young — who upon hearing about the project, have contributed articles, and are working on new ones as I write this.  

We hope you enjoy the Shakti Initiative as much as we have been inspired by it.    

We’ve got a lot up already, and a lot more planned, so visitwww.shaktiinitiative.org often.

Jai Mata Di and Happy Navaratri!

Best,

Suhag Shukla

HAF Executive Director

P.S. Would you like us to write about a Hindu woman of note? Interview a swamini known to you? Uncover the reason behind a tradition centered around women? Send us your suggestions at shakti@hafsite.org.  

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