Hindus in Parramatta need these religious spaces

By: Surinder Jain.

Hindu Council of Australia has prepared a list of city infra-structure that is needed by Hindus to perform their rituals and to celebrate their festivals. This list becomes the basis for Hindu Council to ask various cities to provide these spaces for Hindus to be able to live their culture and to be able to teach it to their children.  The list we have compiled so far contains what is missing and does not include those facilities (like temples, stadiums and parks) which have already been built or were already available.

1. Asthi Visarajana  (River bank, safe access to flowing water, temporary prayer space for fire and rituals, benches under shade, hand washing and parking)

Asthi Visarjan, also known as Asthi Pravah, is a significant Hindu religious ritual. It involves the immersion of the remaining bones and ashes of a deceased person after cremation into the Ganga river. This ceremony serves as the final act performed after an individual’s passing, symbolizing the soul’s release from the mortal realm. By merging with the divine waters during Asthi Visarjan, the departed soul embarks on its journey towards the afterlife 123 Asthi Visarjan is a deeply spiritual and emotional process. It allows families to bid farewell to their loved ones while honoring ancient traditions and seeking spiritual solace 

Rivers, Ponds, beches and ocean offer tranquil and spiritually charged surroundings for performing this sacred ceremony with devotion. 

2. Chatt Puja and Visarjana (Water body like beach, pond, creek or river, safe access to water, gathering of a few hundred, temporary prayer space for fire and rituals, beach shower, change room)

Deities are the gods and goddesses in Hinduism. They represent different aspects of the divine, cosmic forces, and natural phenomena. Deities are often represented through physical forms such as stone, marble, metal, wood, or paint. Only deities made out of clay are immersed (visarjana) in water.

Visarjana refers to the formal departure of a deity after worship. It marks the end of a period of devotion or puja. The deity is respectfully requested to leave the physical representation (such as an idol or image) used during worship.

During Ganesh Visarjana festival, diety Ganesha is worshipped and at the end of worship is immersed in a water body to dissolve back in the universe.

Durga Visarjan: At the end of Durga Puja, the goddess Durga is bid farewell through immersion in rivers or lakes.

During Chhath Puja, devotees perform visarjana by immersing the clay pot i.e. the offering vessels used for Arghya into the holy river .


3. Holi and other bonfires (Camp fire space, temporary prayer space for rituals, space to go around and close to the fire, space to sit around the fire for singing)

Hindus light bonfires during specific festivals, and these fires hold spiritual significance. 

◦ Date: Lohri is celebrated on the 13th of January.
◦ Significance: It is a zestful festival primarily observed in Punjab, marking the end of winter and the onset of spring.
◦ Bonfire Tradition: People light bonfires to stay warm and celebrate the harvest season. Dancing, singing special Lohri songs, and performing Bhangra (dance) around the fire are common practices.
◦ For newlyweds and newborns, the first Lohri holds special significance, with lots of gifts exchanged1.

Makar Sankranti and Pongal:
◦ Date: Celebrated on the 14th of January each year.
◦ Significance: Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival observed by Hindus across India.
◦ Bonfire Tradition: People exchange multi-colored tilguds (sesame seeds and jaggery sweets) and participate in kite-flying. Taking a holy dip in the confluence of three rivers (Ganga, Jamuna, and Saraswati) is also significant. 
◦ In Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as Pongal, honoring the sun god and the god of rain, Indra1.

Basant Panchami:
◦ Date: Celebrated during the beginning of spring.
◦ Significance: Worship of Goddess Saraswati, the deity of learning.
◦ Bonfire Tradition: People wear new yellow-colored clothes, fly kites (especially in North India), and enjoy sweet rice with almonds, cashews, and raisins1.

◦ Date: Celebrated in early March.
◦ Significance: Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility, Holi now commemorates a legend from Hindu mythology.
◦ Bonfire Tradition: On the eve of Holi, bonfires are lit on street corners to cleanse the air of evil spirits and bad vibes. This ritual symbolizes the destruction of the wicked demoness Holika. The following day, people throw colored water and apply Gulal (colored powder) while embracing each other in joyous celebration.

4. Prayer gatherings at home

In Hinduism, a home shrine is a sacred space within one’s home dedicated to worship and spiritual practices. Images or statues of Hindu deities placed in the shrine represent the divine presence and serve as focal points for worship. Offerings such as flowers, fruits, and incense symbolize gratitude and devotion to the lord.
Although daily prayers are performed by the family, when family members and friends come together, their collective energy enhances the spiritual atmosphere. The combined devotion creates a harmonious reverberation that positively affects the environment1. Large gatherings provide an opportunity to educate children about rituals, traditions, and spiritual practices. They learn by observing and participating. Cultural Heritage: Passing down these practices ensures the continuity of cultural heritage and religious knowledge. 

Large gatherings at home shrine should be permitted under the same rules as apply to parties and noise limits at homes in general.

5. Havan at home (fire sacrifice rituals)

A Havan is a fire ritual performed by Hindus during special occasions. It involves offering various materials into a sacred fire while chanting specific mantras. The ritual is usually conducted by a Hindu priest, and it holds deep spiritual significance.
Fire is considered sacred in Hinduism. It symbolizes purity, transformation, and the divine presence. Offerings to Deities during a Havan, offerings are made to the fire. A specially consecrated fire is prepared in a designated area. The priest recites ancient Vedic mantras, invoking specific deities and cosmic forces. Offerings are made into the fire, including: Ghee (clarified butter), Grains, Milk, Incense and Seeds etc. Each offering has symbolic significance and represents different aspects of life and existence.

Havan should be permitted indoors and outdoors subject to prevailing fire restrictions and prevailing smoke guidelines.

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