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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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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Meat Free campaign promoted by Radio Sur Sangam

Mr Vijai Singhal, director of Hindu Council of Australia was interviewed at Radio Sur Sangam 99.9 FM by Nitin Madan on the topic of 10th Anniversary of the launch of “Meat Free Day” campaign on 2nd October 2008.

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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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Hindu rituals under attack in Australia

By: Smith Jones.

Australia is a very tolerant society. Hindu practices are not only encouraged but participated by a large number of white Australians and elected Australian representatives from all shades of political spectrum. Hindus feel at ease and encouraged to become Australians.

Surprisingly, attacks on Hindus are not coming from other religions or from fringe political ideologies. Political leadership in Australia makes sure they come to Hindu events and celebrate it with Hindu Australians. All other religions including the main religion Christianity are very supportive of Hindus and their efforts to organize themselves and celebrate their festivities and conduct their rituals. In fact, some of the religious leaders of older religions who have been here for two hundred years, go out of their way to help new comers find their feet and guide them on how to integrate well into Australian society. The departments of multiculturalism and various other government ministries are inclusive, respectful and supportive of Hindus and their efforts to get spiritual guidance from their temples, associations, seers and saints.

The attack to dissuade Hindus from practicing their rituals is coming from other Communist leaning pseudo-secularists masquerading as journalists who have also migrated to Australia more recently. They seem to question the audacity of Hindus in performing their rituals and Hindu worship in their new homeland of Australia. All Hindus and all religious leaders of all religions in Australia as well as Political leadership should condemn such veiled and sometimes open attacks on Hindus by vested interests.

By:Smith Jones.

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