Places in Sydney that I hate to go

Imtiaz Issadeen

Yes, Sydney is clean and tidy. Yes, it is dynamic and vibrant. But beneath this façade is an element of disrespect for other cultures and religions which I find most disturbing.

Several commercial establishments display a complete lack of understanding and/or respect for other religious beliefs. But, you, the community, is not doing anything about it. Simply allowing the status quo to continue without rocking the boat.

To give you just two examples from many in this city.

There is a restaurant in Newtown which specialises in South Asian cuisine. Well know and patronised by many Sri Lankans.

What is wrong with this restaurant, you may well ask.

We visited once and only once. Both my wife and I were totally shocked and disgusted with the interior decoration of this restaurant.

Large number of statues and heads of the Lord Buddha were on display, some on sale. Children would go sit on the heads, play, kick and punch the statues and show zero respect for the symbol of Buddhism.

The same applies to a garden shop on the North Shore. They sell the heads of The Lord Buddha as garden and poolside ornaments. Kids pat the heads, little dogs pee on the statues and no one seems to be upset. This is another location that is on my Never Visit again list.

Such disrespect for another person’s religious beliefs and symbols of his religion is totally abhorrent to our way of thinking.

Growing up in Sri Lanka, living with our neighbours who were of various religions, going to school and having friends from all faiths, one comes to appreciate that each person has his/her own beliefs. Each person firmly believes that their religion is the true path.

If you stop to think, who can really say their religion is the right one? Has any person who died, ever come back to tell us which religion is the true religion? None to my knowledge.

Respecting the beliefs of others and treating their temples, churches, mosques and synagogues with due reverence is easily the most important aspect of living in harmony with your fellow denizens.

Imagine for a moment if these statues were of the Holy Virgin. The shop would have been shut down by the authorities immediately. Why then simply ignore the disrespect for another religion?

Our way is just a small step. We refuse to patronise such places. Maybe it’s not a big deal but if 10,000 people do the same, such establishments will rethink their décor or closedown.

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