Congratulations to SADIRN Member Niru Perera on submitting her PhD thesis

Nirukshi (Niru) Perera has submitted her PhD thesis to the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University (Melbourne)on Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora and Hinduism in Australia: Talking Tamil, Talking Saivism: Language Practices in a Tamil Hindu Temple in Australia

Niru writes: “Hinduism is growing in its influence and significance both in Australia and internationally. The development of India as a superpower and the rise of Hindu nationalism in India are indicators of this growing influence. In Australia all censuses since 2001 point to Hinduism as the fastest-growing non-Christian religion yet the phenomena of Hinduism in Australia is relatively under researched. My thesis looks at the intersection between language and religion for one particular group of Hindus in Australia; Sri Lankan Tamils. Moreover, it is the first thesis that focuses on the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Australia. I conducted an ethnographic study in a Tamil Hindu temple to investigate the languages used in the temple space and how the temple, as a religious institution, is helping migrants to maintain and transmit the Tamil language and Saiva religion to the next generation. My study found that the temple has a positive influence on the development of young Tamils’ religious, ethnic and linguistic identifications and it provides a safe space for the children to use Tamil in a new way. This new way is termed “translanguaging” and it allows for children to use languages from their complete linguistic repertoires often resulting in speech that mixes Tamil and English features. While English is generally their stronger language, their use of Tamil in translanguaging indexes the significant influence of their heritage religion and culture.