Dr. Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat
Born in Maharashtra, India, Dr. Jayant Bhalchandra Bapat arrived in Australia in 1965, when as he says, there were just a handful of Indians there. In 1998, Dr Bapat retired as a senior lecturer in Organic Chemistry at Monash University and is currently Adjunct Research Fellow, Monash Asia Institute at Monash University.
But apart from being an academician, Dr Bapat is also an authorised Hindu priest and Hindu and Civil Marriage celebrant in Australia. “In 1980, a friend’s wife in Sydney was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She requested me to do her final rites because there was no one else who could do this in Australia. I learned the funeral rites and performed them for her. Since then I have done more than 800 rituals for people all over Australia and have performed over 100 Hindu weddings,” says Dr Bapat, who also acts as a Hindu community chaplain for many hospitals in Melbourne and visits Hindu patients with terminal illness on a regular basis.
Dr Bapat has written several articles on Hinduism and associated topics in encyclopedias and is currently researching the Goddesses of the Koli fishermen of Western India. He co-edited the book “The Iconic Female: Goddesses of India, Nepal and Tibet”, published by Monash University Press in 2008 and is working on its sequel.
In 2006, he was honoured with the Caroline Chisholm Award for Community Service and the Order of Australia Medal) for services to the Hindu community in Australia and to Education, in 2010.