Launch of ‘The Indian Diaspora: Hindus and Sikhs in Australia’

Consul General Manika Jain launched the book “Indian Diaspora: Hindus and Sikhs in Australia”, a body of work will facilitate in understanding Indians in Australia.

“At present, the Persons of Indian Origin in Australia are approximately half a million which is sizeable enough in changing the contours of Australian multicultural society and also its economy. The Indian diaspora in Australia is growing in different climate and culture than its roots. It is vibrant, dynamic, assimilating and also giving which provides very exciting opportunities to historians, sociologists and anthropologists. Therefore, I say this book is very timely, but there are more reasons to celebrate the publication of this work,” Jain said at the launch held recently here in Melbourne.

Congratulating the Dr.Purushottama Bilimoria, Dr. Jayant B. Bapat and Rev. Dr. Philip Hughes for their painstaking hard work of seven years which has resulted in this excellent work on Indian diaspora in Australia, Jain said the book will facilitate in understanding Indians in Australia. “By knowing traditions, cultures, religions and the journeys of Indian Australians, it will form a bridge which will enable to understand Indians.”

The book outlines the history of Indian migration to Australia from 19th century onwards and the evolution of diaspora to present times. Hindus and Sikhs, being the largest Indian diaspora in Australia, the work gives fascinating accounts of their customs and practices, their cultural intermingling with each other and with the culture of wider Australian community. It brings out vividly how profoundly Indians have contributed not only to culture, society and way of life in Australia but also to Australian thought, psyche and economy with quiet harmony.

On the one hand, the book dispels the general belief that Indian migration to Australia is a recent phenomenon which commenced in second half of the 20th century and on the other hand it gives a spectacular window into the Hindu and Sikh cultural and religious practices in Australia. At the same time, Hinduism and Sikhism have themselves been transformed as Hindus and Sikhs from different parts of India as well as Fiji, Malaysia and other parts of the world have come together to establish a pan-Indian ethos. Hindus and Sikhs here have also interacted with other sectors of the Australian population and with religions from the Western world. This is the theme of this book.

The book has been edited by and contains contributions from Purushottama Bilimoria, an internationally-known scholar of philosophy and religion, Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat, one of Australia’s most senior Hindu priests and a scholar of Hinduism, and Philip Hughes, a leading analyst of the religious profiles of the Australian people. It also contains contributions from several other prominent scholars. Included are special essays on the importance of diaspora by the late Ninian Smart and on the 19th century Afghan cameleers and Indian hawkers. (TIW)