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Beliefs and practices
In the 19th century, Hindus first came to Australia to work on cotton and sugar plantations. Many remained as small businessmen, working as camel drivers, merchants and hawkers, selling goods between small rural communities. These days Hindus are well educated professionals in fields such as medicine, engineering, commerce and information technology, constituting a model minority. The Hindus in Australia are mostly of Indian origin, with some originating from other parts of the Indian subcontinent. The majority of Australian Hindus live along the Eastern Coast of Australia and are mainly located in the cities of Melbourne and Sydney. As a community Hindus live relatively peacefully and in harmony with the local populations. They have established a number of temples and other religious meeting places and celebrate most Hindu festivals.
The following dates briefly outline the arrival of Hinduism.
- 1788 – Indian crews from Bay of Bengal came to Australia on trading ships.
- 1816 – Domestic servants in European households left the port of Calcutta to take up labouring work in Sydney.
- 1844 – P. Friell who had previously lived in India, brought 25 domestic workers from India to Sydney and these included a few women and children.
- 1850’s – A Hindu merchant, Shri Pammull, built a family opal trade in Melbourne that has prosperously continued with his third-to fourth-generation descendants.
- 1857 – The census showed a mere 277 Hindus in Victoria. The gold rush years attracted many Indians to Australia and across the borders to the gold mines in Victoria.
- 1893 – The census showed that 521 Hindus were living in New South Wales.
- 1901 – Just about 800 Indians lived in Australia, the majority of them lived in northern NSW and Queensland.
- 1911 – The census counted 3698 Hindus in the entire country.
- 1921 – Less than 2200 Indians lived in Australia.
- 1977 – The first Hindu temple in Australia, the Sri Mandir Temple, was built. Established by three devotees; Dr Padmanabn Shrindhar Prabhu, Dr Anand and Mr Prem Shankar, who bought an old house in Auburn NSW and paid $12000.00 to convert it into a temple.
- 1981 – The census recorded 12,466 Hindus in Victoria and 12,256 in NSW from a total of 41,730 in the entire country.
- 1985 – a Hindu society, the Saiva Manram, was formed in order to build a temple for Lord Murukan. Since its inception, Lord Murukan has been called 'Sydney Murukan'. The Saiva Manram has worked hard for nearly ten years to build a temple for Lord Murukan.
- 1996 – Hindus with their birthplace in India made up 31 per cent of all Hindus in Australia. But the census also showed there were 67,270 Hindus living in Australia.
- 2001 – According to 2001 census Hindus accounts 95,128.
- 2006 – Hindu followers were 148,119 according to 2006 census data.
Byrnes, J 2007,'Hinduism', Religion and Ethics <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/stories/s790133.htm>