SPEECH: Dehwah Daymaneh (Mandaean) Birthday of John the Baptist 20th May 2017


Dehwah Daymaneh (Mandaean) Birthday of John the Baptist

Mr BURKE (Watson—Manager of Opposition Business) 10-5-2017

On behalf of Labor, I want to extend my best wishes to the Mandaean communities in Australia and around the world on the marking of the birthday of John the Baptist. Mandaeism is a 2,000-year-old faith that has its roots in ancient Mesopotamia. The ritual of baptism is the focal aspect of worship in Mandaeism. Here in Australia Mandaean communities perform ancient rituals of bathing in the Nepean River, in Penrith, every Sunday. Dressed in white ceremonial robes, men women and children immerse their bodies in water as a symbol of purification and connection to the ancient rituals of the baptism of John the Baptist. For those of us of the various forms of Christian faith—there are a number in the chamber, including myself—this is a faith where the belief is that John the Baptist is a prophet calling for somebody who has not yet come. So, all the teachings of John the Baptist are where the Mandaean faith anchors itself. The Mandaean community has endured an extraordinary amount of persecution and hardship, fleeing Iraq and Iran and settling in different parts of the world. Australia is home to about 10,000 followers of the Mandaean faith, who have developed a strong relationship with community and the Australian society.

I will never forget my first meeting with members of the Mandaean community. It was in this building, more than a decade ago. I was shadow immigration minister at the time and the then member for Prospect, now member for McMahon, had brought a group in to meet with me. The thing that was extraordinary about the meeting was that it was the first time I had ever the Aramaic language being spoken. The Aramaic language, the language of what many of us would call the Holy Land at the time of the New Testament, is still spoken by the Mandaean community. While I did not understand a word, the richness of the language made it a moment that has always stayed with me.

We are privileged that the Australian story is deep and wide. It tells a story of a nation of many cultures, faiths and backgrounds, fused together to represent the essence of a successful, modern multicultural society. That is our Australia.

Tony Burke