Speech to Deepavali Festival, Shiva Vishnu Temple, Carrum Downs, Melbourne
Shiva Vishnu Temple - Carrum Downs, Melbourne
17 November, 2012
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I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
I also acknowledge:
- The Hon. Ted Baillieu, Victorian Premier and Mrs. Robyn Baillieu
- Mr. Jude Perera, State Member for Cranbourne, representing Mr. Daniel Andrews, Victorian Opposition Leader
- The Hon. Bruce Bilson, Federal Member for Dunkley
- Ms Sandra Mayer, Mayor, City of Frankston
- Mr Chidambaram Sirinivasan, Commissioner Victorian Multi-Cultural Commission
- Mr Vasan Srinivasan, Federation of Indian Association of Victoria
- Dr Anvekar, Board Member
I am very pleased to be here this evening, representing the Federal Government in the heart of my own electorate as we join together to celebrate the Deepavali Festival.
It is fitting that we gather here at the Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple, the largest Shiva Temple in the Southern Hemisphere, to celebrate a festival depicting the triumph of good over evil. When I attended the grand opening of the Cultural and Heritage Centre on this site in April, I was struck by the different cultures and people who came together to see the Centre that had been a dream of the Hindu Society for 25 years.
Since then, many Australians, both Hindu and non-Hindu, have visited the Centre and the Temple to worship and to gain a greater understanding of the Hindu tradition. The Shiva Temple has come to symbolise the incredible good that stems from embracing a vibrant multicultural community such as ours.
Tonight we commemorate the Deepavali Festival, which is celebrated not only by Hindus but also by followers of the Sikh and Jain faiths. In India, the world's largest Hindu population celebrates the festival each year with huge enthusiasm, with millions of candles lit and hundreds of firecrackers released in the streets.
It demonstrates the character and diversity of our country that we come together tonight from various backgrounds and ethnicities to echo those celebrations in India.
Australia has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with India. Indians were amongst our earliest settlers and there continues to be a prominent Indian community in Australia, with India now our largest source of permanent migrants.
The Federal Government's White Paper on Australia in the Asian Century, released last month, signals a shift in our foreign policy and a re-focus on our relationship with India. On her recent trip to India, our Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard reinforced the importance of the Indian-Australian relationship and the opportunities it presents in education, trade and migration.
In a recent speech, the Prime Minister spoke about the relationship between India and Australia as being one of "old friends" and "new partners." It is a friendship that was forged during the Second World War and which now provides the foundation for a new, strategic partnership.
Closer to home, many of you will be familiar with Little India in Dandenong which, as the name suggests, reflects an Indian culture rich in traditional clothing and cuisines.
As many of you will know, the Deepavali Festival is also referred to as the festival of lights. The beautiful lamps that have been lit around the Temple represent the presence of hope and compassion in our lives and in our communities.
The key themes of the Festival - good overcoming evil and knowledge triumphing over ignorance - resonate with all Australians and are timeless in their relevance to society.
While we have much to be grateful for here in Australia, many of our neighbours both at home and abroad face hardships and difficulties. As a nation, we face the challenges of climate change, poverty and economic uncertainty - challenges that are even greater for our neighbours in the developing world.
But the Deepavali Festival provides us with a valuable reminder of the power of light to overcome darkness, and the role that each of us can play in our everyday lives to bring hope to the lives of others. The Deepavali Festival encourages us to perform good deeds and to lend a helping hand to our neighbours. These values are replicated in the Australian concepts of a fair go and mateship, providing us with a fine alignment of cultures that we should all hope continues into the future.
I congratulate the Hindu Society of Victoria on hosting this wonderful celebration. I wish you all a happy Deepavali, and prosperity and good fortune in the year ahead.