SWASTIKA: Cultural Sensitivity Should Take Precedence When We Display Controversial Symbols And Objects

Swastika flags3

headerSwastika flags5I sincerely apologise on behalf of Mr. Gaba for flying those flags with Swastika. Though his behaviour would seem insensitive I would like to believe it was not intentional.  As we live in a multi-cultural and Inter-faith country, I believe it will be advisable to first run such symbols and objects through the litmus test before putting them out for a public display : "How it will affect the general public before we display them?  No worship or celebration can be fruitful if it ends up hurting our fellow human beings. We know it.That said the Inter-faith Associations also have an obligation to review such sensitive issues and come up with harmonious solutions.

By Dr. Suresh Kurl

Brand-D-LogoThe Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants all Canadians the freedom of conscience and religion allowing to practice our religion as we wish, as many times a day as we wish and wherever we wish, provided our practices do not raise any public safety concerns.

I have witnessed Muslims praying to Allah amidst the hustle and bustle at airports, but have never seen Hindus having a bonfire ceremony in public places in celebration of the Holi festival, for safety concerns.  And that is fine with me.  

Then, there is the fundamental freedom of thought, belief and opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication. Though there are no restricting laws that would restrain us from practicing these freedoms there is a law of conscience (the litmus test) that we must apply before enjoying this freedom. Hope we have not forgotten what had happened to the staff of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris?

Historically, Swastika goes back to approximately 12,000 years, when it was discovered carved on an ivory figurine in Mezine (Ukraine).

In Buddhism, svastika is also considered a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, abundance and eternity. It is found carved on statues on the soles of Lord Buddha's feet and on his heart. 

Swastika flags4In Jainism, Svastika symbolises the four states of existence: Heavenly beings (devas), Human beings, Hellish being and Tiryancha, as flora or fauna,  representing the perpetual nature of the universe in the material world, where a creature is destined to one of those states based on their karma. Amazingly, Native Americans also use this symbol for the sun.                         

Recently, Mr. Ravinder Gaba of South Vancouver put two swastika flags in front of his residence to honour his spiritual guru.  As a practicing Hindu he must have learned that the swastika is an old Vedic symbol denoting peace, love and purity.

If I may add, this Hindu-Auspicious symbol spelled as, Sv-asti-ka in Sanskrit also means well being, fortune, luck, success, prosperity and victory — a far cry from its Nazi association. The symbol represents the Hindu Lord Vishnu (the preserver of this planet) and god Surya (Sun).

Rabbi Carey Brown of Vancouver said, "Certainly as a Jew, it's a symbol that has a lot of emotional painful resonance for me. We have many members of our synagogue who themselves are survivors of the holocaust, or have parents or grandparents that survived," said Brown. "It's a lot of pain and a little bit of fear as well." 

No human with a conscience can dispute this tragedy. I am a Hindu. I was not even born, when Adolf Hitler adopted the symbol, redefined it, corrupted it and rained his terror over Jewish people under his Nazi brand of Swastika flags.

I sincerely apologise on behalf of Mr. Gaba for flying those flags with Swastika. Though his behaviour would seem Swastika flagsinsensitive I would like to believe it was not intentional.  

As we live in a multi-cultural and Inter-faith country, I believe it will be advisable to first run such symbols and objects through the litmus test before putting them out for a public display : "How it will affect the general public before we display them?  No worship or celebration can be fruitful if it ends up hurting our fellow human beings. We know it.

That said the Inter-faith Associations also have an obligation to review such sensitive issues and come up with harmonious solutions.

Dr. Suresh Kurl is a South Asian Community Activist, a former university professor, retired Registrar of the BC Benefits Appeal Board (Govt. of B.C.) a former-Member of the National Parole Board (Govt. of Canada), a writer and public speaker.

***

AD-TFG-GULSHAN  updated ad

Be the first to comment on "SWASTIKA: Cultural Sensitivity Should Take Precedence When We Display Controversial Symbols And Objects"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*