By – Meenakshi Mahadevan
Amidst the calm locales of Dandenong is the little piece of India which houses some of the very beautiful and magnificent pieces of art which could temporarily transport you back to our homeland. Museum India is a one stop venue if you are looking to get a taste of Indian heritage. And it was only fitting that the Indian Interfaith Guide was launched at this special location in Victoria. The Interfaith Guide – a FIMO (Federation of Indian Origin Multi-Faith Organisation Inc) production is a tool launched with the hope of fostering greater harmony and understanding within the Indian community. The Guide which received support from the State Government of Victoria and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC) who funded it - is a resource that gives readers information on various social norms and practices of adherents of the various faiths. This document is regarded as a vital step to proactively addressing the potential causes of conflict, difference and prejudice in the community as it relates to those of Indian origin.
The evening was kick started by the founder and trustee of FIMO, Chair of CIAA and Australian Multicultural Council Member Vasan Srinivasan who highlighted the value of such a resource. “Victoria has a proud multicultural history. It is incumbent upon all Victorians to protect this important legacy, built up over many generations. During internationally challenged times, there is an additional duty to understand the people with whom we share this country,” he said.
The event, which was a celebration of both Australia Day and the Indian Republic Day saw more than a hundred people gathering to collectively launch the first of its kind document such as the Indian Interfaith Guide. Based on a number of inputs from the community members, the Guide is a comprehensive book which intends and hopes to cut across the barriers of culture, religion, country and bind not only the Indian Community but also reach out to the Australian Community and foster a harmonious relationship in society.
Gabrielle Williams, the MP for Dandenong who was representing the Premier Daniel Andrews launched the Indian Interfaith Guide and thanked the Indian Community for being an integral part of Australia’s culture. “The work done for the guide should be commended. This will provide harmony and help understand the Indian community and its various cultures. I can’t thank you for being a strong voice in important issues,” she said. The other dignitaries included the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott, Tim Smith – Member for Kew (representing Matthew Guy, the Leader of the Opposition), Victoria Heidi MP Julian Hill (Labor Candidate for Bruce), Gary Spencer (Liberal Candidate for Isaacs), Cr Wayne Smith (City of Casey) and Nirmal K Chawdhary Head of Chancery and Consul (representing the Indian Consular General). The Mayor of Greater Dandenong City Cr Heang Tak, who was also a special guest praised the idea of the guide and said, “The guide is a new resource that enlightens US on the various faiths that makes Dandenong what it is. I have no doubt it’ll be a valuable document for everyone to understand the community. I commend everyone for their commitment to promoting this guide. I look forward to hearing about the progress this guide makes.”
Western Union was the exclusive sponsor for the event. Inderjeet Magar representing the Western Union stated “with large number of migrants, international students and business professionals travelling to Victoria every year, we see a huge potential and demand for our services here and seek community support. We look forward to a long term association with FIMO and FIAV.”
The event, which was hosted by both FIMO, the Confederation of Indian Australian Association Inc. (CIAA) and Museum India was a grand success with all the guests staying back for a sumptuous Indian meal and getting to know a little more about India.
The FIMO Interfaith Guide has limited hardcopy availability at Museum India and will have a flipbook version available for all view online.