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Lost in Translation: The Federation of Indian origin Multi-Faith Organisation

On Saturday, 5 September 2015, the “Lost In Translation” Interfaith Issues Forum was held by the Federation of Indian Origin Multi-Faith Organisation Inc (FIMO) at Walker St Gallery (Theatre) in Dandenong. This forum was an opportunity to contextualize some of the issues that community leaders, service providers, law enforcement bodies and the community at large face with regards to religious beliefs.

Left to right: Subramaniam Ramachandran (FIMO Treasurer), Rev. Jean Dupuche (Christianity), Naureen Choudhry (Islam), Nithin Doshi (Jainism), Nesan Naidoo (Facilitator), Revati Ilanko (FIMO Executive Officer), Karan Gandhok (Sikhism), Soundarrajan Iyer (Hinduism), Vasan Srinivasan (FIMO Trustee), Ambarish Deshmukh (FIAV Treasurer) and Sudesh Singh (FIAV Vice President)

Subramaniam Ramachandran (FIMO Treasurer), Rev. Jean Dupuche (Christianity), Naureen Choudhry (Islam), Nithin Doshi (Jainism), Nesan Naidoo (Facilitator), Revati Ilanko (FIMO Executive Officer), Karan Gandhok (Sikhism), Soundarrajan Iyer (Hinduism), Vasan Srinivasan (FIMO Trustee), Ambarish Deshmukh (FIAV Treasurer) and Sudesh Singh (FIAV President)

The event commenced with a welcome from prominent community leader and founder of FIMO, Vasan Srinivasan and ensued with the apt facilitation by Mr Nesan Naidoo (Mind Modelling) acting as the facilitator. The panellists included Nitin Doshi (Jainism), Rev. Jean Dupuche (Christianity), Naureen Choudhry (Islam), Karan Gandhok (Sikhism) and Soundarajan Iyer (Hinduism). James Waterson from the Southern Metropolitan Multicultural Liaison Unit Victoria Police was a key professional who addressed questions associated with crime and police relations. The forum was attended by some key figures passionate about interfaith dialogue including Manjit Aujla (President of Indo Australian Friendship Council), Parviz Deamer (member of the Baha’I Local Spiritual Assembly), Rev. Russel Cole (Liberal Catholic Church), Christine Mukherjee (Pastor), Helen Heath (Dandenong Interfaith Network), Carey Rohrbach and others. Catering for the event was provided by Tandoori Junction Indian Restaurant.

The discussion commenced with prayers offered by panelists from their own respective religions. Speakers presented the issues members of their faith and communities experience, highlighting the uncomfortable challenges experienced by religious and community leaders, who are often at conflict when having to support their religious values against mainstream secular values. The issues traversed challenges adhering to the prevailing laws of the land that may differ, with existing religious values, creating a context where some religious ideologies become lost in translation; and the rise in domestic violence, disengagement of certain groups in society, indoctrination, discrimination, and rejection of LGBT individuals. The discussion that took place between the panel and attendees was rich, promoting an environment where many felt at ease reflecting on their personal interfaith journeys and challenges. An overall key message and area of focus gathered from this forum was that peak bodies and government should invest in educating and empowering youth/children to take the lead in promoting interfaith harmony.

This forum was one of a kind in the Indian community as it addressed some unspoken challenges. FIMO’s next step is to keep the conversation going through setting up a Multi-Faith Reference Committee to inform FIMO in running projects that closely reflect the needs of society and running a part 2 to the “Lost in Translation” forum.

Revati Ilanko | Executive Officer


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