Swastika or Hakenkreuz? This is where East never meets West
8th June 2021 – A Puslinch resident, Randy Guzar, who is retired now has been working hard and fighting a lone battle for years to have a name change for a street named ‘Swastika Trail’. His justification is straight and simple. Swastika is a symbol of evil and hate. His twitter profile states Swastika as a ‘badge of his dishonor’. This time he has received support from a Cambridge MP, Bryan May. Guzar and his small neighborhood group along with May’s support have appealed the federal government to condemn the usage of the ‘Swastika’ as symbol or sign or even name. Guzar’s online appeal has received nearly 2000 signatures so far https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-3185
Interestingly, even after 75 years of Hitler’s death and destruction of the Nazi forces in Germany, the Nazi Symbol, which is known as Hakenkreuz, i.e., the hooked cross is still mistaken as Swastika. It is equally fascinating to note that the Nazi party never called it as Swastika. It is quite probable that the usage of the ‘Swastika’ interchangeably for Hakenkreuz started only after the end of WWII.
On the eastern end of the world, Swastika is considered a pious and religious symbol. Almost all Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples in the world revere this insignia. The word ‘Swastika’ has roots in the one of the oldest known languages of the world, Sanskrit. It is quite common for Hindus to put Swastika in and outside of their homes, use it for any auspicious occasion including buying a new car, electronics, almirahs, etcetera. In Japan, it is a common sight to find Swastika at places of worship. There are over 1.5 billion Hindus and Buddhists who see Swastika as a positive sign.
Randy’s petition is being countered by a group called National Alliance of Indo-Canadians whose President, Azad Kaushik, is trying to explain his side of the story. https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-hitler-s-hooked-cross-is-not-the-swastika-hitler-s-hooked-cross-is-not-the-swastika?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_29300193_en-CA%3A3&recruiter=45670061&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition
His request has received over 900 signatures, mostly from the Hindu community.
A visual history of the swastika as a motif, excerpted from The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today (2019, Allworth Press) (all images courtesy Allworth Press)
Many inter-faith dialogues have happened in the West regarding this matter. However, the Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish communities have not found a common ground, at least on this. For the Jewish community, the mere sight of Hakenkreuz reminds them of the terrible holocaust and persecution at the hands of Nazis. For the Hindu and Buddhist community, the symbol of Swastika is the core of their existence and connects them to their ancient heritage and ancestors. This is where the East may never meet the West.