I learnt quite a bit today; here is what I learnt and where I learnt it…
‘Every living being has the same basic wish – to be happy and to avoid suffering. Even newborn babies, animals, and insects have this wish. It has been our main wish since beginningless time and it is with us all the time, even during our sleep. We spend our whole life working hard to fulfil this wish.’
Who is Buddha?
‘A Buddha is a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions.’
Buddhism in Australia
‘In Australia, Buddhism is a small but growing religion. According to the 2006 census, 2.1 percent of the total population of Australia, or 418,749 people, identified as Buddhist. It was also the fastest-growing religion by percentage, having increased its number of adherents by 79 percent between the 1996 and 2001 censuses. Buddhism is the second largest religion in the country after Christianity.’
Religion in Asia
‘Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent, with millions of different peoples following a wide variety of different religions. Asia was the birthplace of most of the world’s mainstream religions including Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Lingayatism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastranism, Sanamahism as well as many other beliefs.’
Asians in Australia
‘An Asian Australian is a person of Asian ancestry who is a citizen or permanent resident of Australia.
For the purposes of aggregating data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG) has grouped certain ethnic groups into certain categories, including East Asian e.g. Chinese Australian, Southeast Asian e.g. Vietnamese Australian, South Asian e.g. Indian Australian and Central Asian e.g. Afghan Australian.
At the 2011 Census 2.4 million Australians declared that they had an Asian ancestral background. This represents about 12% of all responses.’
Buddha’s birthday in Australia
‘Since 1997 the Buddha Birth Day Festival has grown into one of Queensland’s most prestigious cultural events attracting in excess of 150,000 visitors and is now recognized as the largest annual Buddhist Birth Day Festival in the world.’
And that’s where me and Elizabeth went on Saturday. It was a very colourful affair…
And it all took place in a beautiful setting opposite the city of Brisbane and next to the Brisbane River…
- Children’s rides
- Dragon boat regatta
- Cultural workshops
- Medication classes
- Multifaith service
- Lion and Dragon dancing
- Fireworks on the Sunday evening
- And more Asian food than you can shake a stick at!
I had Hokkien noodles.
As my above fact-finding mission has shown, there is a huge Asian presence here in Australia, which didn’t surprise me, but Buddhism being the second most popular religion here in Australia? Well that was news to me.
Second it is though, albeit a long way second. In first place here in Australia is Christianity which is the stated religion of over 60% of our population. Within Christianity though there are over a dozen different affiliations, with Catholics being the most popular just slightly ahead of the Anglican Church.
Still within Christianity we have the not so widely followed Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists and Latter-day Saints.
Around 22% of Australians say they have no religious affiliation so that only leaves around 17% or so and it is here that Buddhism takes second place ahead of Islamic, Hindu and the Jewish communities.
The Constitution of Australia from 1901 allows for “freedom of religion” and that’s exactly what we have here. The Buddha’s birthday festival which, incidentally, took place at South Bank Parklands, was a great example of this freedom in action.
Like so many festivals around here, it was also free to get in.