12 May 2015 5:43 PM AEST: A 32 year old son of Indian immigrants has cemented his name in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia by becoming the first politician to be sworn in to an Australian Parliament with oath taken on Bhagavad Gita, the holiest book of the Hindus.
Daniel Mookhey, who entered the NSW Parliament today, held the holy Gita in his right hand as he was sworn in, a photo by Fairfax Media appears to show.
The upper house Labor MP was born in Sydney’s Blacktown suburb to parents who emigrated to Australia from the north Indian state of Punjab and grew up in the western suburb of Merrylands, social media suggests.
The young management consultant, who was the 2013 federal campaign director for the Australian Council of Trade Unions, replaces Labor MP Steve Whan.
The southasia.com.au failed to contact Mr Mookhey for a comment despite several telephone calls to his office in the NSW Parliament.
It is noteworthy that according to the 2011 census, Hinduism was the fastest growing religion in Australia accounting for 1.3% of the total population at the time. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Hindus rose from 148,130 in 2006 to 275,534 in 2011.
But members of the Indian and Nepali communities observe the number would be much higher under the present circumstances given the influx of students in recent years, specially from Nepal when the Himalayan nation reeled under a bloody Maoist rebellion.
Rajesh Rao, a devout Hindu from India who works with DHL Supply Chain at North Ryde, was beside himself when he was contacted by southasia.com.au for a comment. “I feel extremely proud and happy to know that Hinduism is now represented in the Australian Parliament itself, and in the government,” Mr Rao exclaimed. Australia is rooted deep in multiculturalism and diversity which is open to all religions and hence, it was only natural that sooner or later Hindus were represented in the high office, he added.
“There cannot be a greater moment than this for the Hindus not only in Australia but living across the world,” said Pundit Prakash Dhodari who is a traditional Hindu clergy based in Sydney. He said the news marked an important milestone for people like him who were practicing Hindus and far from home.