Australia Census 2011 has revealed that Hinduism is the fastest growing religion in the country and Hindus are now asking for a Diwali holiday.
Since 2006, the Hindu population has increased from 148,130 to 275,534. This Census also showed more Australians than ever were identifying as having no religious affiliation.
Madhu Patel, president of NRI Press Club in Chicago and Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, have urged the government of Australia and its various States and territories to add “Diwali” on the list of their restricted holidays honoring the sentiments of Hindu Diaspora in Australia who would like to be home on Diwali to celebrate the festival with their families, friends, and the community.
Zed also urged Australian Hindus need to work even harder in educating Australians about Hinduism and make concerted efforts to remove misconceptions about it. Many Australians were still not well-versed about Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents. It is on the shoulders of Australian Hindus to educate the Australian public about at least the basic tenets of Hinduism.
Madhu Patel observed that many Hindu religious practices create huge misunderstanding in the society at large as these practices are often not understood or explained. It is up to the Indians in general to dispel some of the misconceptions about the basics of the rituals and practices as well as guiding principles of this Sanatan faith.
Australia has no official state religion and people are free to practice any religion they choose. Australians are also free not to have a religion. Religious freedom is safeguarded by section 116 of the Australian Constitution.