Australia Census 2011 has revealed that Hinduism is the fastest growing religion in the country and Hindus are now asking for Diwali holiday.
According to a Australian Bureau of Statistics media release, Hinduism had experienced the fastest growth since 2006, increasing from 148,130 to 275,534. This Census has also showed that more Australians than ever were identifying as having no religious affiliation.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged governments of Australia and its various states and territories to add “Diwali” on the list of their restricted holidays honoring the feelings of Hindu workers in Australia who would like to be home on Diwali to celebrate the festival with their families, friends, and the community. Were not workers of all the religions had same rights in Australia, Zed asked?
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that the Hindu growth rate was inspiring but now Australian Hindus needed to work even harder in educating Australians about Hinduism and attempt to remove misconceptions about it. Many Australians were still not well-versed about Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents, but Australian Hindus should take it on their shoulders to educate the Australian public about at least the basic tenets of Hinduism.
Welcoming the growing influence of Hindu community, Rajan Zed urged Australian Hindus to participate in interfaith dialogue, assist the different communities in their neighborhoods, build trust and help create harmony in the society. Reports suggested that many non-Hindu Australians also practiced yoga, believed in reincarnation, chose cremation and were seekers of spiritual truth.
Zed further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations of Hindus amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that the Hindu community in Australia would focus in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.
The 2011 census data highlighted diversity in Australia’s cultural landscape. Australia should use this census to offer better opportunities for all segments of the society, Rajan Zed argued.
Australia has no official state religion and people are free to practice any religion they choose. Australians are also free not to have a religion. Religious freedom is safeguarded by section 116 of the Australian Constitution.