By Anthony Barich
Perth’s Vicar General Fr Brian O’Loughlin attends many official engagements representing Archbishop Barry Hickey, but none was more unusual than the consecration ceremony of Perth’s new Hindu Temple in Canning Vale on June 1.
Fr O’Loughlin, WA Premier Alan Carpenter and two other members of State Parliament were welcomed by the President of the Temple Management Committee who thanked the State Government for its donation of $621,000 towards the building of the temple.
Along with one in Kwinana, it is the second major Hindu temple in WA, plus there is a ‘minor’ temple in Scarborough. The temple replaces the hall-like structure alongside the Warton Road site in Canning Vale.
Mr Carpenter commended the Committee for building an unmistakable Oriental structure which now distinguishes the site.
Meanwhile, Fr O’Loughlin found himself seated on the floor alongside the other dignitaries, all of whom had parted with their shoes at the entrance to the temple.
The consecration ceremony consisted of prayers and chants in Hindi and libations, with many young visiting Hindu priests clad in saffron robes. Hundreds packed the new temple for the occasion, but as a Catholic priest in a polytheist temple, Fr O’Loughlin said he “prayed to God for tolerance and respect”.
“This seems more than ever necessary, given the rise of fundamental Hinduism in India which tragically saw the incineration of an Australian Christian missionary in recent years,” he said.
“Some Indian states have banned conversion to Christianity. It is to be hoped that the Indian priests return to their home country and relate how the local Hindu community has been welcomed and helped by the Australian community and its Government.”
Mukesh Mani, president of the Hindu Association of WA, has studied the Bible and the Koran and has lived in Middle East Muslim countries and Israel, and says there are many parallels between the Christian and Hindu faiths.
He said the five main deities of the Hindu faith are similar to the Christian concept of the Trinity, though Shiva, the “Supreme God”, of their faith, appears to have a higher ‘ranking’ to the other four, whereas in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal and in fact the one God.
The other four Hindu deities are Ganesha, remover of all obstacles in one’s life; the goddess Devi, whom the faithful pray to for protection, knowledge, wisdom and sustenance; Laxmi-Narayana, the god and goddess of wealth and wisdom; and Murugan, the “commander in chief-type God” who is the “destroyer of egos”.
Mr Mani, a member of the State Council of Churches, said the Hindu community invited other faiths including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Bahai faith and Taoists, “just to say that we can all cohesively partake in each other’s ceremony”.
“It helps to give others a knowledge of how Hindus operate, as we have been very docile in our way,” he says.