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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 663


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (10:49): I often say about my electorate of Parramatta that we have the world in us. When Australia opened its doors at the end of the White Australia policy back in the seventies the world came in. I live in a community where the character, philosophy and history of some of the great nations are now woven into the fabric of our society. I love them all, but today I particularly want to talk about the nation of the subcontinent, and some of the wonders that are now in my community because of the presence of quite an extraordinary community. We have already seen, because of this great arrival of people around the world, wonderful new festivals—the festivals of Holi and Diwali. We have seen Carnatic music and dance, which is incredibly strong in my community. We have seen wonderful new restaurants that celebrate the cuisines of different regions of India and the Punjab, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In Parramatta we can eat the foods of the different regions of India.

On Saturday, a new festival arrived. We saw the first celebration of Rath Yatra in Parramatta Park. Rath Yatra is one of the great Hindu festivals of the world. It is known as the chariot festival. It celebrates an event that started in Puri in India and now takes place in many locations around India. The festival is about taking the deity, Lord Jagannath, and his two siblings on a chariot out to meet the people. It is about bringing the religion of Hinduism out to the people. It is known as the us Rath Yatra was a chariot festival.

The festival was an extra ordinary event. The deities were loaded on the chariot near Parramatta pool. The chariot was pulled with ropes by members of the community about 400 metres through Parramatta Park and then turned around and brought back. It was an incredibly colourful event—an event of great meaning to the people who participated.

A thing to know about this festival which might be quite interesting for Western people is that the word 'juggernaut' came from this festival. The Jagannath chariot, as it is called, is pulled through the streets and once it starts it is very difficult to stop so the word 'juggernaut' that we use on a daily basis comes from this quite ancient festival Rath Yatra.

I congratulate the organisers—ISKCON and also Gambhir Watts of Bhavan, for what was an extraordinary event and a great addition to the ceremonial life of Parramatta.