Parliamentary speeches

Sikh community and Diwali

October 24, 2019

Like many members of parliament and senators, this week I joined in two very, very significant celebrations. It's also significant that these celebrations were held in this place, Australia's parliament. I refer of course to the 550th anniversary of the birth of the Guru Nanak and the celebration of the beginning of Diwali.

I'm very proud to represent a large and vibrant Sikh community in my electorate and have learned much from my engagement with my friends in that community. I think particularly of Parvinder Singh and Jasvinder Sidhu. But I learned much more also from my participation in a series of events this week marking the 550th anniversary of the birth of the Guru Nanak and from having opportunities to share some reflections on his role as a philosopher, a leader and a very radical thinker who rejected the trappings of caste and set in place a very powerful tradition which has an influence that reaches beyond the Sikh community. So I say thank you to the National Sikh Council of Australia and the Australian Sikh Council for bringing together two celebrations. In particular, I acknowledge in this place that this week we heard the first Prakash ceremony to have ever taken place in this parliament. I am hopeful and very confident that it will not be the last. It was particularly enlightening for me to hear the address given on Tuesday night by Harinder Singh, a guest from the United States, who posed some great challenges in bringing together Sikh thinking and some references to Star Wars. There are some big challenges for those of us who have the privilege of holding representative capacity to do better and to be better.

Many of my colleagues joined me and the Hindu Council of Australia in celebrating Diwali in the Great Hall, and I acknowledge the contribution of the previous speaker, the member for Moore, who touched upon how significant that was and the cultural exchange that was at the core of the celebration of Diwali in this place. Again, I acknowledge all those who brought this celebration together and say how significant it is that such a celebration took place in the Great Hall of Australia's parliament. It means a lot to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who follow the Hindu faith, particularly those from India and Sri Lanka, many of whom I'm proud to represent. But Diwali has become something that matters to all Australians, as it should. I'm very much looking forward to celebrating Diwali in South Morang on Saturday in a colourful celebration of a festival that we can all enjoy and appreciate. I think all of us have our own take on Diwali, but celebrating the victory of light over darkness is something that I think causes all of us moments of personal celebration, even in difficult times. So for all of those for whom this is a particularly special time I say: happy Diwali and a very peaceful and happy year ahead.