A fascinating community

31 January, 2010

Immigration Museum: Getting In exhibition
Immigration Museum: Getting In exhibition
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: I would like to know more about the Mandaean Community.

Answer: For many thousands of years, the Mandaean community called Iran and Iraq home. It is both a religious and ethnic community which is sometimes referred to as Sabian Mandaean. People who identify as Mandaean follow the religious teachings and rituals of John the Baptist and are thought to pre-date both the Christian and Islamic religions.

Mandaeans do not accept converts and one cannot marry into the Mandaean religion. It is a private community whose religion forbids the use of violence or force. Water is at the heart of the Mandaean faith and they participate in ritual baptisms to cleanse themselves.

The Mendi is the Mandaean equivalent to a church, mosque or synagogue and Mandaeans eat yaloofi meat just as the Jewish eat kosher and the Muslims eat halal foods. Sadly, Mandaean people have been the victims of religious persecution for many years, and still today suffer discrimination in the Middle East. Mandaeans have a long history of trades such as boat building, gold smithing and carpentry. There are about 70 000 Mandaean people worldwide, with 5000 living in Australia, mostly in Sydney.

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