Believe it or not, a record 25,000 people took part in the Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival) this year in Melbourne, Australia. According to a journalist Krati Garg, who lives there; migration and local interest have established Hinduism as Australia's fastest growing religion.
The event 'Rath Yatra' was brought to Australia by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). This Chariot Festival takes place in Austalia yearly to follow a similar tradition of Rath Yatra at Puri, in India.
The occasion attracted hundreds and thousands of regional Australians from all part of the country to see the Hindu God Krishna stepping out of the sanctum of his stupa in Albert Park onto the streets of Melbourne for his viewing.
Krati Garg has supported her statement 'More Australians are putting their faith in Hinduism' with some remarkable facts. Let's find out!
If you could've visited St. Kilda's Catani Gardens on the day of Chariot Festival in Melbourne, Australia; then only you could've witnessed the growth of Hinduism's soaring popularity in Australia and the honour it has gained among the hearts of local Australians.
"Australians are putting their faith in Hinduism, and it can be understood the way migration has increased the number of Indians choosing to get settled in Australia, particularly in Melbourne," says Krati Garg.
Local born Australians are attracted towards the world's third biggest religion.
"The Hindu way of life, with vegetarianism, karma and spirituality as its tenets, has never been more popular in the western world," says Bhakta Dasa, the national communications director for ISKCON Australia.
The shift of Australians towards Hinduism got first noticed in the year 2011 when Census came out. It is growing largely since then, as confirmed by Australian Multicultural Foundation, and Hindu Council of Australia.
Census Watchers in the meanwhile have called it right that more and more Australian people are nominating Islam as their religion (which has risen from 2.2% to 2.6%). However, Hinduism has a rising level of all-time high, 2.7%.
And the reason is simple, explained Mr Dasa; "The number of Indian students graduating from Australian universities has increased efficiently. Most of them choose to settle down here as permanent residents, which is a key to rising popularity of Hinduism in Australia."
ISKCON, which is an international organisation established in the year 1966 to serve Hindu scriptures and the teachings of Hinduism.
Over the course of few years, throughout shifting colonisation, ISKCON has a membership of 60,000 – 70 percent of whom are Hindus from overseas and the rest mostly Anglo-Australians.
"I was an atheist before I found my faith in Hinduism and Krishna movement," say Mr Dasa.
This year's Chariot Festival has become a hugely popular and many other people like Mr Dasa attend this festival every year to get the sense of its purpose.
"When you pull the ropes of Krishna's cart you are inviting the God to your heart and re-establishing the connection. Irrespective of their belief, we let everyone have a go," Dasa added further.
"Lord Shiva (the destroyer) and Vishnu (the creator) who never cross paths in the temples of India, not only share a common home but grant Darshan (an audience) to people from all walks of life, irrespective of their colour, skin and religion," explains Krati Garg.
"We just needed a place to worship," she has been a part of the team that saw Shiva Vishnu temple take shape from humble beginnings in a small shed. "And we would bring food from home as prashadam [a religious offering] and sing bhajans [hymns]," she concludes.
Mrs Krishnamoorthy has visited almost all the holy places around the world, and she says that Hindu Temple at Carrum Downs is more than a place of worship for Hindu community, Melbourne.
She finds it surprising that white Australians visit the Hindu temple to read Hindu scriptures in Tamil.
Hindu Organisation of Temple Association provides religious services to Hindus residing all across Australia.
Traditionally, the temples are first to stop for all the Indians and Hinduism believers in Australia to celebrate everything and to thank God for everything.
"I have prayed there in my times of need, and things have always worked out. Now I pray to thank the God for all that I have," say Krishnamoorthy.
"The council had a major hand in adding Hinduism as a religion option in last year's Census," says Makrand Bhagwat, a Victorian member of the Hindu Council of Australia.
"[The council], along with its partner organisations, ran a campaign in our networks to encourage the Hindu community to exercise this option," he says. "We are very keen to see the outcome of the 2016 Census and are pretty confident that this [growth] trend will continue."
Well, not only Indians residing in Australia, but their relatives, friends and family living in India are also eagerly waiting to know the results.
That's all, folks!
Source: Krati Garg