Battle to reclaim the ‘Swastika’ as pious symbol is on in Canada

1st February 2023 – For a common Canadian, it is taken for a fact that the Nazi symbol is called ‘Swastika’. For this person, the symbol connotes hatred, religious extremism and fascism. For this person, it is anti-Semite, anti-Jew and has the power bring back horrors from the annals of World War II history.

Anyone with some knowledge of history and cultures may know that ‘Swastika’ is considered as a very pious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These cultures make up for one-fifth of the global population and in Canada, there is about 1.2 million combined who subscribe to these ancient faiths.

While one aspect of the contradiction regarding this symbol could be thought as a ‘west versus east’ thing, but it will only be a serious anomaly. Yes, this is where West surely does not agreed with the East. But about this symbol, there is more to it.

Vishal Saini, who is a Director at Hindu Forum Canada, talks about this issue. “An important thing to understand is if the Nazi literature ever called this symbol as Swastika. Scholars and historians must now come up with more facts.”

As per available Nazi literature, the hate symbol was known as ‘haken-kreuz’, literally meaning the ‘hooked-cross’.

Therefore, we want that not only the Indic communities in Canada, but all must learn to differentiate between the two symbols. We are raising this issue in whatever forum we can. We talked about it with Ontario Ministry of Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD). We are seeing some positive results but we are not yet there”, says Saini further.

Hindu Forum Canada sent a letter to Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs last month. As the police investigated a hate-crime in an Ottawa school which involved the Nazi insignia, the Hindu group requested the police to state in its report as ‘haken-kreuz’ instead of ‘swastika’.

We have sent this letter to the police and have sought support from Premier Ford, Minister Michael Ford, MP Chandra Arya and ARD.”, says Saini.

A copy of the letter was shared with Hindu Times Canada.

In March 2022, Canadian MP Chandra Arya spoke in the House of Commons on this issue. He said, “On behalf of over one million Canadians of several religious faiths and in particular Hindu-Canadians and as a Hindu-Canadian myself, I call upon members of this house and all Canadians to distinguish between the Hindu religious sacred symbol Swastika and the Nazi symbol of hatred called Hakenkreuz in German or the hooked cross in English”.

Meanwhile in India, a documentary movie called ‘Silence of Swastika’ in Hindi was released last year by a YouTube channel, AKTK Documentary. The documentary was later translated to English audience for wider reach. For anyone who wishes to know more on Swastika and haken-kreuz, this movie can be good place to begin.

With rising Hinduphobia reports in Canada, the task of changing the narrative is uphill and with very less support from academia and mainstream media, the Hindus here are keeping the battle on to reclaim the lost glory of ‘swastika’.

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