‘United Communities’ Forms Theme of Australian National Hindu Conference

Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia Queensland chapter agrees to host first HOTA forum

The 5th Australian National Hindu Conference — ‘United Communities, United Australia’ — was organised by the Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia Inc., (VHP of Australia) and hosted by its Queensland Chapter at the Mercure Hotel on Saturday, 27 August.

The conference was a unique and historical event for the Hindu Australian community in Queensland as it was the first time an event of this scale was organised in Queensland. There was good representation of government officials from the State and local governments. On behalf of the Queensland Government, Mr Peter Russo, State member for Sunnybank representing the Hon Grace Grace, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Minister for Racing, and Multicultural Affairs, Mr Joe Kelly, State Member for Greenslopes attended. At the local government level, Councillor Angela Owen, Chairman of Council, Councillor for Calamvale Ward, Brisbane City Council represented Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Mayor Paul Pisasale, Ipswich City Council attended.

Australian National Hindu Conference

The inaugural session commenced with Subramanian Ramamoorthy JP, National President, VHP of Australia Inc., welcoming the delegates and dignitaries. This was followed by the keynote address by Dr Manonmanii Krishnamohan, president of the Queensland Chapter of VHP Australia. The keynote address was on the vision and contributions of the Hindu Australian Society. Dr Krishnamohan noted that according to Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011, Hindu Dharma is the fastest growing religion in Australia and that Hindu Australians had higher educational qualifications and occupied high profile professions compared to other communities.

The presentation provided statistical evidence that Hindu Australians were a contributing community. This was followed by a presentation by Rajendra Pandey, President, VHP of Australia, South Australia chapter, on the services of the VHP of Australia to the society.

The first plenary session was on working with government agencies. The delegates were told that government agencies have a number of opportunities available for multicultural community groups. But to utilize the opportunities available, the Hindu community has to build a relationship with these agencies.

The second plenary session focused on the collaboration among Hindu organisations, temples and associations. Chaired by Swami Vigyananand, International Coordinator and Joint General Secretary, VHP Bharat, he explained the purpose of Hindu Organisations Temples and Organisations (HOTA), while Pritika Sharma, Joint General Secretary VHP New Zealand, presented on the successful experiments of organising the Hindu community in New Zealand through HOTA.

During his address, Swami Vigyananand appealed to the Hindu community to work together, reiterating that the responsibility lies with the community to position itself as a “peace loving, co-existing and contributing community”. He also stressed that while Hindus came to Australia from many different countries and hold many geopolitical, linguistic, denominational and sectional identities, the current time demands that they present one common identity—a Hindu Australian identity. He later formally launched the HOTA forum in Queensland. It was encouraging to see more than 20 Hindu organisations, temples and associations attending the conference. VHP of Australia Queensland chapter agreed to host the first HOTA forum.

The third plenary session which delved on youth and developing future leadership, had seven presentations by young professionals on diverse and important topics such as the need for providing future leadership to Hindu community in Australia, to the value of networking among Hindu youth for sustaining Hindu Dharma in Australia.

The fourth plenary session on bridging the gap among Hindus from different countries was a panel discussion. The panelists included Australian Hindus from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Fiji, and United Kingdom. It was unanimously agreed that it is the community’s responsibility to bridge the gap between Hindus coming from various countries, denominations and community groups by participating in each others’ programs, supporting each other, sharing resources, without diluting the diversity which is the hallmark of Hindu community. An innovative idea that was well received was to use sport to unite the Hindu community, such as forming a Hindu premier league. A group will be formed to make this idea into reality.

The fifth plenary session, Hindu Organisations Temples and Associations’ service to the society, saw 20 organisations including Art of Living, Hindu Swayam Sewak Sangh, Mata Amritanandamayi Center Brisbane, and Jeer Education Trust Brisbane presenting their activities and services to the Australian Society. The highlight of this session was a presentation by Dr Rama Jayaraj of Charles Darwin University, Darwin, on the connections between the Australian Aboriginal culture and the Hindu and Tamil culture.

Overall the conference provided a common platform for Hindus from various countries, organisations, temples, associations in Queensland to come together to share a sense of belonging and bonding. The conference also provided opportunity for networking, collaborating and sharing ideas thus contributing and strengthening the multicultural fabric of Queensland and Australia.

For more information, visit www.vhp.org.au

(This article first appeared on http://www.theindiansun.com.au/sydney-september-2016/)