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Hindu prayer request denied by Australia House of Representatives

Melbourne, Mon, 21 Apr 2008 NI Wire

Rajan Zed, the internationally acclaimed Hindu chaplain, has been denied the request of reading opening prayer in the Australia House of Representatives.

In a reply to Zed's request, Bernard Wright, Deputy Clerk of the House, wrote, "…standing orders as they are worded would not allow a chaplain of any faith to say a prayer or similar invocation: this is because they specify that it is the Speaker who reads the prayer, and also because they specify the prayer…"

In Australia, upon taking the Chair of the House each day, the Speaker reads the following prayers:

Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouch safe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of Australia.

Our Father, which art in Heaven: Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen

Explaining the prayer in his reply, Wright wrote, "…The prayer…has two paragraphs - the first calls for blessing upon the Parliament and for direction in deliberations to the advancement of the glory of God and the true welfare of the people of Australia, the second paragraph incorporates the Chriastian Lord's Prayer…"

Answering Zed's question, Wright wrote, "The House does have the capacity to change its standing orders, and has often done so, although the history of the House does not show a willingness to change the standing order relating to the saying of prayers at the commencement of each sitting…"

Rajan Zed has read the historic first Hindu prayer in United States Senate in Washington DC in July last, besides first Hindu prayers in Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Arizona Senates, Nevada Assembly and Arizona House of Representatives during the last few months. He is one of the panelists for "On Faith", a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced jointly by Newsweek and Nevada Clergy Association, drawn from various religions and denominations, honored him sometime back.

Australia, sixth largest country with a GDP per capita of about $37,500 and known for its natural beauty, has the longest continuous cultural history. About 68% of its population is Christian.

A federal parliamentary democracy with Queen Elizabeth II as Chief of State, its House of Representatives consists of 150 members presided over by the Speaker Harry Jenkins. The House, which meets in Canberra, makes laws, determines the Government, scrutinizes government administration, represents the people, controls government expenditure, etc.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion followers. Moksha (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.

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