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Sydney Murugan Temple, Sydney, Thursday, 17 June 1999: address on the occasion of the opening.

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It is a great pleasure for my wife, Helen, and me to be with you this afternoon fo r the Consecration and Official Opening of the Sydney Murugan Temple, here at Mays Hill.   We express the hope that the Temple will be a source of inspiration, blessing, comfort and fellowship for all the members of Saiva Manram and of the broader Hindu community … indeed for all who visit and worship here in the years ahead.


For Saiva Manram, today’s ceremony marks the final stage of a long journey of aspiration and achievement.   The beginnings of that journey were in the early 1980s when a large number of Tamil people migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka and southern India.   Most of them were - and are - of the Saiva faith which is one of the principal branches of Hinduism and has strong claims to be the oldest of the world’s religions.   With its rich devotional literature focussing upon the personal tie between the soul and the Deity, it particularly honours Lord Murugan who is seen as the embodiment of the everlasting fragrance of life, of beauty, of truth and of love.


When those first substantial numbers of Tamil people arrived in Australia, there was no Saiva Temple in this State.   The idea for the Sydney Murugan Temple was born in 1985 and the Saiva Manram was incorporated in 1986.   To begin with, Friday night prayer meetings were conducted at a school in Strathfield.   With the funds collected from devotees, with help from the Ethnic Affairs Commission of New South Wales and with bank finance, land at Mays Hill was purchased from the Road Transport Authority in 1994.   By the following year, the Tamil Educational and Cultural Centre had been built and opened.   The images of the Deities were consecrated in the Hall for worship until such time as a permanent Temple was built.


The permanent Temple was seen as a religious and cultural necessity.   Time was not wasted.   In 1996 the adjoining block of land was bought from the RTA.   And here we are today, some three years later, attending the Temple’s Consecration and Official Opening.   The Temple represents a very substantial achievement of the Tamil community.   I offer my warmest congratulations and thanks to all who have contributed to the successful completion of the project by way of financial support, time, effort, or the planning or construction of the actual building.


I say “thanks” as well as congratulations for the reason that, while this Temple is serving and will serve the particular religious and cultural requirements of the Australian Tamil community, it is also of true national importance in that it will make an important contribution to the general multiculturalism that sustains and enriches our country as a whole.


That “multiculturalism” must, of course, be understood in our Australian context in a special way, that is, as referring to multicultural inclusiveness.   So understoo d, it does not merely refer to the fact of the existence of many cultures.   Rather, it refers to a policy of national inclusiveness … of mutual respect, acceptance and protection of the diverse cultural, racial and religious backgrounds and origins of all Australians.   That policy is supported by all our mainstream political parties.   Its essence lies in a proper balance between respect for, and genuine tolerance of, the different national, racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds and cultures from which we come and the fundamental requirements of national identity, national unity and national standards.  


Thus, our multiculturalism recognises the entitlement of all Australians to preserve and cherish


So understood, multiculturalism does not detract f rom or threaten our national identity or national unity.   To the contrary, while recognising and protecting our diversity of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs, it promotes that identity and unity by building upon and adding cohesion to what we are.   It follows that our multiculturalism is not only decent, just and right in that it reflects mutual understanding, acceptance and respect.   It is in our own interests as a nation.  


Let me conclude by again congratulating all associated with the planning, the financing, the designing and the building of the Temple.   I express the hope that it will in the years to come serve as the centre of Sydney’s Saiva Manram community and be a source of peace, truth, inspiration and goodness for all who come here.


And now, with great pleasure, I declare the Sydney Murugan Temple to be officially open.



jy  1999-06-18  15:05