Ramadan is where you can see Australia as per the Census 2016

Pics courtesy Hemu Negi

By Neena Badhwar

Ramadan is celebrated all over the world with gusto. After thirty days of fasting, people of Muslim faith commemorate the festival as the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad  according to Islamic belief.  This annual observance is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29”“30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon  according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths.

Sydney’s multicultural community looks forward to the end of the fasting days when every home cooks a feast of dishes and invites everyone, friends, family and acquaintances. It is a time to enjoy, sing, dance and share a meal and thus connect. The Islamic community in Australia is unique as Ramadan becomes an occasion to mix, mingle and understand each other better.

The Ramadan Mela at Whitlam Centre in Liverpool is one such gathering of people hailing from multi faiths who live in harmony. Food offered is delicious with stalls selling tasty biryanis, kebabs roasted on red hot coals in front of you, nihari meat, goat curry, boti kebab, chicken and beef dosa are all there. There is a stall selling freshly made paan and matka rabri. There are smiles all around people serving you by greeting you ”˜Happy Eid’.

Sashi Lal is one of the organizer of the fair, dressed in her shiny blue dress and decked in jewellery she has managed the stage show, fashion parade with singers entertaining the audience in the hall. She attends to invitees, conducts the show and still has time to talk casually and take some selfies. She is in demand as many others also ask for a selfie with her. Rides, jumping castle, fairy floss, balloons, games, gadgets, Indian subcontinent clothes all are under one roof to entice children and women. There is a burger van but the food sold on other stalls is rather in hot demand.

We ask Sashi, how come she is part of this, she replies as a matter-of-factly, “You know I am from Fiji and both my parents are Hindu, Sharma at that, me you can’t keep me away as even in Fiji or now here I get into things and enjoy the multicultural spirit. For me religion does not make me isolated rather I enjoy every kind of religious tradition. This is how we lived together in Fiji, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. There was no demarcation. For me Diwali, Holi and Eid are all to be enjoyed.”

This Ramadan mela depicts the true spirit of multiculturalism with people living and enjoying each other’s company regardless of faith they belong to.

The latest Census 2016 is out as it shows that Australia has reached a “tipping point” in 2016 where only slightly more than half its residents had two Australian-born parents. Migrants make up over 28 per cent of the Australian population. They are young, happy to take up jobs of looking after Australia that is growing older. There are now people from over 200 nations settled here who speak close to 300 languages that include indigenous languages as well. If you come to place like Liverpool which is the first little India it has the most Hindi and Urdu speakers.

When people come here they bring in their traditions, their food, their clothes and want to make a success of themselves by blending in. While they are expected to adopt to Australian values and know English language, their contribution, the rich cultural heritage, the food, their hard work in various jobs they are ready to take on, cannot be overlooked.

As we look around, there are people of all colours, race and religious faiths around you and more pouring in. Is it the aroma of meat dishes or is it just the joy, the spirit that has attracted them to a place where all are welcomed with a smile. Yes it is Liverpool, the rest of Australia is beginning to notice, as the data of the Census 2016 has shown.

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