Deepavali at Parliament house, Canberra

 

diwali parliament housesmall

Deepavali 2013 Celebrations at Parliament House – Senator Zed Seselja (ACT), Professor Nihal Agar, Chairman of the Hindu Council of Australia, and Senator The Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary for Social Services with responsibility for Multicultural Affairs.

Excerpts of Speech by Senator Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells  

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services  

Liberal Senator for NSW  

On the eve of Deepavali 2013 Celebrations

Parliament House, Canberra  

made on 2 December 2013

 

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells acknowledged the prsesence of Mr Surinder Datta, Deputy High Commissioner of India; Professor Nihal Agar; His Excellency Mr Rudra Kumar, Nepal, Ambassador, Embassy of Nepal; Mrs Cheryl Brown-Irava; Members of the Diplomatic Corp; Executive Members of the Hindu Council of Australia; to my many Federal Parliamentary colleagues here this evening; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.

Here is the excerpts of her speech to the guests, Canberra community and  members of The Hindu Council of Australia and its group of 30 people from Sydney who travelled to Canberra to witness the Deepavali celebrations.

“It is a great pleasure to be here on behalf of the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP. Minister Andrews was unable to join us but he asked me to convey his best wishes on this important occasion.

I am very pleased to co-host this evening’s celebration of the holy festival of Deepavali. I would especially like to also acknowledge the assistance of Senator Zed Seselja for supporting this initiative.

I would like to congratulate the Hindu Council of Australia for its ongoing commitment and dedication to the Australian Hindu community and in presenting a united voice on behalf of all Australian Hindus.

We are blessed to live in a country where people have the freedom to worship, express and practise their faith without intimidation or interference as long as those practices comply with Australian law. In Australia we are committed to creating a society where diverse cultures, religions and races peacefully co-exist and contribute to universal peace and harmony.

This evening I am honoured to be co-hosting this celebration with the Hindu Council of Australia and I commend Professor Agar and the respective community representatives for working hard over the years to share this great cultural and social event with us.

This festival, the most popular of all Hindu festivals, has been celebrated here at Parliament House since 2004. Indeed, the last Deepavali I attended was in the Great Hall. It says so much about Australian multiculturalism that our seat of government is made available for all to share and enjoy.

Australia’s Parliament is the greatest expression that we have of the fundamental principle that whatever differences there are between us, we are all Australians and can work together for the greater good of the nation.

In tonight’s celebration, we extend our hand of friendship to all Australians seeking to promote and increase our understanding of different faiths.

We need to continue to promote community harmony and understanding between different faiths. Living harmoniously and respecting one another are the cornerstones of a successful multicultural society.

Such celebrations not only keep alive your own cultural traditions but provide an opportunity for the wider Australian community to see and understand them.

We have a long history of welcoming migrants from all corners of the globe. We have welcomed more than 7 million immigrants since 1945. And as the daughter of migrants myself, I understand very well the hard work and sacrifices that millions of our migrants have made to build a better life for themselves and their children.

Today the Hindu Australian community is a well-established, integrated and an active community participating in many aspects of our culturally diverse Australia.

Our successful multicultural society is founded on a commitment to the common elements that unite us, combined with a respect for, and understanding of, our social and religious differences.

The religious freedom that we all enjoy in Australia is a testament to the strength of our democracy and values.

The Hindu community comes from a large number of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, originating from many countries, and nearly one in every six Hindus in Australia was born here.

This is a reflection of the wider diversity of our nation.

Together we can ensure that Australia continues to build a culture of acceptance, tolerance and understanding.

On behalf of the Australian Government, can I extend my congratulations for your service to building a better Australia and I wish you all a wonderful Deepavali.”

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