22 March 2023

Multi faith leaders set to demonstrate religious unity

Australia has a tradition of religious and cultural harmony. Picture: iStock.

Jenan Taylor

15 March 2023

Anglican leaders are among those calling for harmony between different cultures after several incidents of vandalism at Hindu temples and hate speech on social media, with an interfaith service planned for Federation Square.

It follows the vandalism of three Hindu temples in Melbourne and one in Brisbane in the past two months, and a clash between Indian religious groups in Melbourne in February.

The leaders say they hope their visible demonstration of unity will reinforce Australia’s tradition of religious and multicultural harmony. Leaders include members of Melbourne’s Hindu and Sikh groups, the Victorian government Multifaith Advisory Group and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Among those leading the prayer and meditation service is St Dunstan’s Camberwell vicar, the Reverend Jobby John, who has Indian roots.

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Mr John said it was important for people of all faith backgrounds to show the wider community that they all stand together when there was a crisis.

He said he was preparing a prayer for the event, and that it would revolve around asking forgiveness for those who were attempting to sow discord.

“It is about bringing God’s grace on people who are probably thinking differently, acting differently and probably have misconception,” Mr John said.

Hindu Council of Australia (Victoria) president Makarand Bhagwat and Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria chair Jasbir Singh said the service for unity would ease worries about the interfaith relationships and reenergise peacemaking efforts.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modhi raised concerns about the defacement of the Hindu temples with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during his visit to India in early March.

The prayer and meditation service for peace will take place at Federation Square at 6:00pm on Monday 20 March.

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