Mandaeans are followers of John the Baptist. Their ancestors fled from the Jordan Valley about 2000 years ago and ultimately settled along the lower reaches of the Tigris, Euphrates and Karun Rivers in what is now Iraq and Iran. Baptism is the principal ceremony of the Mandaean religion. Mandaean Baptisms are administered by a ganzevra (bishop) with the assistance of tarmidi (priests) and ishkandi (deacons). Baptism may only take place in a free-flowing fresh-water river. All Mandaean ceremonies are conducted in the Mandaean Aramaic language in accordance with the Mandaean canonical books, with the most Holy one being the Ginza Raba.
Mandaeans began to settle in Australia around 1981. Ganzevra Salah Chohili arrived in 1996. Ganzevra Salah Chohili then proceeded to conduct religious ceremonies for the Mandaean Community, including baptisms at the Nepean River on Sundays and for Festivals.