The IST News Desk,
Sydney,18 October, 2018
Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams issued a statement condemning the attack on the temple in Regents Park last night, “The NSW Government will not tolerate the desecration of items of cultural and religious significance, which threaten the cohesion of our multicultural communities.
I am appalled at the destruction of more than 30 statues of Hindu Gods and the setting of small fires inside the Barathiye Mandir Temple in Regents Park.
The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government recently strengthened the Crimes Act to protect our diverse communities from individuals who publicly incite or threaten violence against people based on their race or religion and will carry a maximum three-year jail sentence.
I understand police are currently investigating the vandalism and sincerely hope the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
NSW Opposition Leader Mr. Luke Foley condemning the incident, in a statement said, I strongly condemn the cowardly and hateful attack on the Bhartiye Mandir Hindu Temple in Regents Park, this is a crime against peaceful Australians who live their faith and hurt nobody.
I am disgusted at the desecration of more than 30 statues of Hindu Gods, and the setting of small fires throughout the temple.
I stand with the Hindu community in my electorate of Auburn and in NSW, and hope that those who perpetrated this disgraceful attack are brought to justice.
I will always stand up for multicultural communities across NSW who have made an enormous contribution to our state, and will always defend the rights of all communities in this state to freely practice their religious beliefs in freedom and safety.
Anyone who incites, threatens, or practices violence against people on the basis of race or religion should face the full extent of the law.
According to a police Media Release, investigations are continuing the incident of vandalism in the Temple
Federation of Indian Associations of NSW (FIAN) condemns in the strongest words the desecration and destruction of a place of worship for Hindu community in Sydney. FIAN president, Dr Yadu Singh, has been in touch with the head priest of the temple, Pandit Paras Ram Maharaj and offered support and assistance in getting the culprits brought to the justice. Fian Press Release
The temple in a media release last night said, “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 far 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.
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.
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.