The ‘Acharya envoys’ who propagate Indian culture

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Three ‘ambassadors’, whose mandate is to spread yoga and the Vedas in the U.S., explain their vision and mission

In a new initiative by the Narendra Modi government, a band of Indian officials posted to three missions in the U.S. now promote ‘Indian culture’ as part of diplomacy.

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Vedanta for the modern world – Victoria lecture

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Gargi Woman June Bullivant

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Winner of Gargi Woman Award 2018 – (Academic Researcher)

By Bharathi R

JUNE BULLIVANT  has been awarded Hindu Council of Australia’s Gargi Woman Award 2018 for her outstanding contribution as Academic Researcher. The award consisting of a plaque was presented to her by Federal MP Julie Owens and by Mr Surinder Jain – Vice President – Hindu council of Australia.

June has earlier been nominated for the 2012 Women of the West Award for her commitment to providing educational opportunities and preserving the history of Western Sydney.

The Granville Historical Society is a resource centre which collects the history of the Granville and Parramatta local areas; provides historical information and photographs for the use of the community, for use for educational and family history; offers educational presentations to organisations and schools; and provides photographic displays for use within the Parramatta Heritage Centre.

She has played a lead role in the Society since 1988, when she and her husband founded the organisation as part of a Bicentenary Committee project

Over the years, She has served the Granville Historical Society in a number of roles, including as President, for three times. She currently serves as Secretary and Treasurer, and regularly writes grant proposals for upcoming projects.

Her role involves the preparation of PowerPoint presentations and to provide schools with interactive presentations that make the subject of local history more interesting. She is currently working on a virtual walk through Parramatta Park, which will be given to organisations and schools to share the local history of Granville and the Parramatta LGA.

She is also a delegate on the Parramatta City Council Heritage Advisory Committee, which works to protect Parramatta heritage sites – at present she is working to oppose the recent proposal to drill holes through the 1836 Lennox Bridge.

While proud of the fights she has been involved in over the years — saving Granville pool, upgrade of Granville station and saving heritage on the UWS Rydalmere site — she insists she is “no hero”. She worked tirelessly to keep  Parramatta Female factory alive.

JUNE BULLIVANT  has been awarded 2018 Gargi woman award for her outstanding contribution as Academic Researcher.

Hindu Council announces Winners of Gargi Woman Award 2018

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The winners of Gargi Woman Award were announced today.

The winners of 2018 Gargi Woman Award are :

1. Jacinta Tobin – Service to her Aboriginal Community

2. June Bullivant – Academic Research

3. Dr Meenakshi Srinivasan – Educationist

4. Anju Kalra – Dementia Consultant

5. Jayanthi Ramnan – Carer Service

6. Poornima Sharama – Performer

7. Paramita Roy – Film Producer

In a function held as part of Parramasala festival in Sydney, Hindu council of Australia announced the winners of Gargi Woman Award at a function held to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018.

The event was attended by Deputy Lord Mayor Michelle Garrard, Federal MP Julie Owens, Federal MP Michelle Rowland, State MP for Parramatta Geoff Lee, State MP Julia Finn, State MP for Strathfield Jodi McKay, councillor Reena Jethi, councilor Sameer Pandey and councilor Suman Saha.

In this celebration, Hindu Council of Australia also recognized a young riser Pallavi Sinha and lifelong community service provided by Ms Akila Ramiratnam, Saraswathi Shashi and Amitha Saxena for their services to teach our languages, culture and religion to young students.

What If Everything Our Kids Know About Hinduism is Wrong?

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Being born and raised in California, I have heard mixed messages about Hinduism from my parents, my school, and the religious organization that I grew up with (Sri Satya Sai Baba Bal Vikas). Everyone had their own interpretation of what it meant to be a Hindu.

This is why I have always felt like Hinduism needed its own public relations team. Our community needs to be clear on what Hinduism is and what it is not, so that we properly address the misconceptions that exist in our society. [Read More…]

My HCA Courses

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State of Teaching Hinduism in NSW Australia

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By Vijai Singhal and Surinder Jain (Hindu Council of Australia) 1st March 2018

Apart from various temples and organizations running their own religious and scripture classes, Hinduism is being taught in primary and secondary Schools.

At Primary School level (SRE) – An hour of class time is allowed in state schools per week to teach about religion. The subject is called Special religious Education (SRE). In the state of NSW, this SRE education is provided in some schools by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and in some others by Chinmaya Mission. Saiava Manram provides SRE of Saiva Manram faith in some of the Tamil schools. In total about 70-80 schools out of 2200 Primary State schools in NSW have Hinduism SRE teachers. Each of the education providers (e.g. VHP, Chinmaya, Saiva) have their own Syllabus and their own teaching material.

From 2018, the department has insisted that ” a formal syllabus, vetting of teachers identity, working with children check, training of teachers, a formal complain making and handling mechanism are put in place and made mandatory “. Both VHP and Chinmaya Mission have developed their own syllabus and teaching material. They are required to put up the syllabus on their web sites, VHP syllabus for years 1 to 6 is at and Chinmaya mission for years K-10 is at

Hindus in Australia need to develop a common syllabus for teaching Hinduism as SRE in primary schools.

The department of education provides the class room full of students and it is up to SRE providers (religious organizations) to provide teachers, teaching material etc. The department does not provide any wages or training to these teachers.  Almost all of the teachers are working on voluntary basis paying for their own travel expenses and teaching material like photo copying etc.

Hindu in Australia need to find a way to fund these providers and the teachers.

At Secondary Education level – in NSW we have 2 Unit Study of Religions course in Secondary schools. Hindu Council was consulted in framing the original syllabus. This course covers 5 major religions, Hinduism is one of them. The course material is prepared by Cambridge University Press. We have seen lots of misrepresentation about Hinduism in that material. In last 2-3 years HCA have had discussions with Cambridge Uni Press officials to make changes to the material. With great difficulty HCA could achieve some changes but they pointed out to us that they have to follow the syllabus in preparing the material. e.g. in this, the main emphasis is always linked with the Hindu caste System –  like Hindu Ethics according to different castes.

Hindus in Australia need to develop their own authoritative teaching texts on Hinduism.

The Federal Govt had set up ACARA – Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority to set common syllabus for all different Australian States. At the moment all Sates follow their own syllabi. Prof Jayaraman and Vijai Singhal from HCA had attended some of the meetings of ACARA about teaching of religion. Religion is not going to be a separate subject like the NSW “Study of Religions” subject but is a part of teaching of History.

NSW Govt gets serious about Religious education

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NSW state government had ordered a review of Special Religious Education(SRE) in 2015 and the report was received in 2017. Hindu scriptures are taught to students in schools by VHP and Chinmaya Mission under this special scheme. As a part of implementing many of these recommendations, an All Faith SRE (AFSRE) committee was formed. This committee represents different faiths including Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Bahai and Buddhist among others.

Another recommendation to have a formal syllabus, vetting of teachers identity, working with children check, training of teachers, a formal complain making and handling mechanism are being put in place and being made mandatory from this year. Two Hindu organizations Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Chinmaya Mission are both well on their way in complying with these new rules. AFSRE is providing guidance and hand holding to both of them. Both of them have taken the assistance of BBF process to comply with these guidelines.

Saiva Manaram is also registered as an SRE for providing education on Saiva Manram faith to school children and is also on its way to comply with the new rules.  As of this year, SRE’s who do not comply with the new process will not be allowed to teach in schools. Hindu teachers have prepared themselves well and are not affected. Hindu teachers will continue to teach in schools. AFSRE chair, thanked Hindu Council of Australia for having brought together the Hindu SRE providers to understand and fit in with the changes taking place.

Hindus missing out Big time on School Chaplaincy

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The National School Chaplaincy Programme (NSCP), is an Australian federal government programme which funds chaplains in Australian primary and secondary schools. The chaplains are to provide “support and guidance about ethics, values, relationships and spirituality”.[1] The grants are $20,000 a year for schools and $24,000 for schools in remote areas.[2]

Hindus are missing out big time on School Chaplaincy. Hindu students form 2.5% of school students in NSW but there is not a single known Hindu Chaplain in any of the schools.

While the NSCP is formally not religion-specific, the chaplains employed under the programme are disproportionately Christian. In 2011, one study stated that 96.5% of the chaplains employed under the programme were Christian, while only 64% of Australians identified as Christian (based on the 2006 census). By contrast, 0.01% of the chaplains were secular, whereas 19% of Australians identified as having no religion. Buddhism, the second largest religion, is followed by 2% of Australians, but only 0.03% of the school chaplains. Islam was followed by 1.7% of Australians, but only 0.9% of school chaplains. Judaism is the only religion which had a roughly proportionate representation, with 0.45% of the Australian population following the religion, and 0.5% of school chaplains.

(Source Wikipedia and Census)

Hindu Saṁskāras

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Hindu Saskāras

(Vijai Singhal)

Saskāras are sacraments or holy rites of passage that guide us about our responsibilities in life. There are some 40 Saṁskāras for different milestones in life from the rite of conception to the last rites. Some of the important Saṁskāras are briefly described here. For much fuller and detailed coverage of the subject, please refer to the following links:

  1. Hindu Saṁskāras by Pandit Shri Rama RamanujaAchari :
  2. Rites of Passage by Himalayan Academy…/what…/WIH_Sec5_Chapter39.pdf

Sīmantonayana – is performed between the sixth and eighth month of pregnancy. Family takes special care of expectant mother during pregnancy because the physical and mental development of the foetus is dependent on mother’s health. The mother is advised to eat fresh, wholesome, nutritious food, read inspiring books, listen to good music and have good positive thoughts. She is encouraged to avoid negative feelings of anger, hatred, jealousy, violence. What she eats, drinks, thinks, watches, hears, reads affect the baby very much. However, this ceremony is not very common these days.

Nāmakaran – Naming or name-giving ceremony is the first ceremony after the birth of the child. It is performed in the home or the temple, usually when the child is 11 to 40 days old. The father or the aunt (father’s sister) whispers the infant’s name in his/her right ear. Family and friends give gifts. The priest suggests the first alphabet of the name based on the Naksatra(star). Some parents select the names based on names of Hindu gods and goddesses or some heroes to instil those qualities in the child.

Anna-Prāśana – The child is weaned at the age of six months.  Solid food is fed to the child for the first time. Some sweet rice is usually offered to the family deity or to Annapurna Devi and a morsel is fed to the baby with mantras for ensuring health and longevity and protection.

Chudakarana (Mundan) – Head-shaving ceremony is usually performed before the end of the third year in home or temple. The cut hair is gathered into a large ‘roti’ made of dough, wrapped up and disposed of in a river or buried.

Vidyarambha- This sacrament is performed to mark the beginning of the education.   It is performed when the child first goes to school. The child is bathed, dressed in new clothes and fed. Ganeśa and Sarasvati are invoked and worshipped, after facing east the child is taught to write the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet holding a piece of gold — usually a ring — in a plate of rice.

Upanayana – The sacred thread ceremony is also known as Yagnopaveet. The sacred thread has three strands to remind the child of his responsibilities towards the Guru, parents, and the community. This ceremony is mainly performed in the Brahmin families and is not very common these days.

Vivāh – marriage ceremony is performed in a temple or special hall around the sacred homafire. Lifetime vows are taken and seven steps (Saptapadi) are taken around the fire with the priest explaining the meanings of the vows. The holy union of husband and wife is consecrated. This has become one of the biggest ceremonies these days.

Antyeshti – The funeral ceremony is performed by the relatives of the deceased. It includes preparation of the body, cremation, rites of mourning, purification and remembrance. The eldest son or the grandson, traditionally performs the last rites. The funeral should take place as soon as possible—traditionally, by the next dusk or dawn, whichever occurs first. A priest should be contacted and can help guide in the decision-making process and direct the family to a Hindu-friendly funeral services.