OTTAWA: An Indian-origin Canadian lawmaker has urged the people of Canada and the country’s government to distinguish between the ‘Swastika’, an ancient and auspicious symbol for Hindus with the ‘Hakenkreuz’, a 20th century Nazi symbol of hate and not to put the two in the same league.
The move has been welcomed by Hindu Americans, who had slammed recent attempts by certain vested interests in Canada to use this as an occasion to fuel hatred against Hindus in Canada.
“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,” Canadian Member of Parliament Chandra Arya said.
Speaking on the floor of the Canadian Parliament last week, Mr Arya said that in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, Swastika means “that which brings good luck and well-being.”
“This ancient and greatly auspicious symbol of the Hindu religion continues to be used today at our Hindu temples, in our religious and cultural rituals, entrances to our homes and in our daily life. Please stop calling the Nazi symbol of hatred as Swastika,” he said.
“We support the ban of the Nazi symbol of hatred Hakenkreuz or the hooked cross. But calling it Swastika is to deny us Hindu-Canadians our religious right and freedom to use our sacred symbol Swastika in our daily life,” Mr Arya said.
The Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), in a statement, welcomed the remarks of Mr Arya for clearly expressing his concerns regarding efforts to declare the Swastika as a symbol of hatred in Canada.
“We thank MP Arya for taking a firm stand on this extremely important matter for over half a million Canadian Hindus and close to two billion Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and others for whom the Swastika and its equivalents are deeply sacred and auspicious,” said Nikunj Trivedi, president of CoHNA.
“Since 2020, our Swastika Education and Awareness Campaign has partnered with Buddhists, Jain, Jewish and indigenous groups to ensure a better understanding and mutual respect around this ancient and sacred symbol,” he said.
As part of these efforts, CoHNA recently organised an interfaith dialogue with Jewish, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu leaders to highlight multiple perspectives on the topic and discuss ways to move forward.
In the recent past, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indian-origin leader Jagmeet Singh have made statements disrespecting Swastikas.
In February, amidst massive protests by hundreds of truck drivers against Canada’s Covid restrictions, New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Singh tweeted, “Swastikas and Confederate flags have no place in Canada.