Dallas has a very diverse population. We are priviliged to be around so many different cultures that come from different origins. While we are learning about inclusivity and celebrating every culture, it is important that we also learn about cultural things that we often come across. It is a good idea to educate ourselves before we mistake the holy 'Swastika' symbol for anything else.
Dallas based mom, Padma K. Richardson, shared a detailed post on what Swastika stands for, in a group of moms on Facebook and she received an overwhelming response from others. Moms appreciated her efforts to educate others and were pleased to learn about the symbol as it is most commonly mistaken for a Nazi symbol.
"I learned so much from posting and getting comments from other moms in that group and I was so happy with all the positive feedback and the willingness for people to learn and see the differences," Padma told Newsbreak.
Padma is a Hindu herself, "I'm married to a Caucasian Midwestern white guy. My husband has always been the motivation behind me wanting to share my culture (Indian culture, Hindu customs and traditions) with people who are not Indian or not Hindu. Because he is white and he grew up with mostly white friends and family, when we started dating and got married, I could introduce him to the beauty of my cultures and festivals."
Padma is a part of several Facebook groups including some of Dallas area groups and she saw pictures of Swastikas on cars and front doors of houses that many moms posted, not knowing what it meant and perceived it as a symbol of hatred. "You know how these mommy groups are, it can spiral out of control," she said.
Padma also added, "So these mommies were posting about the Swastika not knowing that people from Indian use that symbol in their festive decorations. People were commenting a lot of hate and fear and anger when seeing these moms post about Indian Swastikas. And it's because they didn't know the difference. They didn't remember to use context clues and look at the way the symbol was being used."
"So after seeing several of these kind of posts, I started drafting my post to try and make it easier for people to recognize the symbols. I was truly surprised just how many people posted and commented saying they had no idea that other cultures use the Swastika too, like Buddhists, Jains, Native Americans, Scandinavians. They had only known the Nazi symbol and what it meant," she told Newsbreak.
Swastika is a sacred symbol that Hindus make to worship their Gods and Godesses and is also used in any auspicious occasions to seek blessings. The more we share the attached meaning to the symbol and the pictorial differences between Swastika and Nazi symbol, the more awareness and more understanding there will be.
Padma never saw the 2 symbols as the same, and she hopes that after her posts, more people at least in Dallas area, can see the differences as well and learn to differentiate the happy and blessed symbol from the hateful symbol.
Here's what Padma's post read:
"Hello, this feels like a sadly necessary post to talk about the Swastika. Why is it necessary? The rise of ignorant white supremacists, the increase in crimes against people of Asian heritage, and the previous and upcoming Hindu festivals in which you might see the Swastika drawn and painted more.
Hindus draw the Swastika for pujas, at the start of a new auspicious beginning (buying a house or car, baby, etc) and during festivals like Diwali, Navratri, and Holi (aka Festival of Colors), which was last week. For Hindus, it is a sign of peace, fortune, and prosperity. Buddhists and especially Jains use the Swastika as well. In other words, it’s a happy symbol according to 1.5 billion people.
Hakenkreuze (I learned this recently) means “hooked cross” and is the Nazi Symbol associated with Hitler, the Holocaust, the pain and suffering of Jewish people; and recently, a symbol for white supremacists and other racists.
There are visual differences between the Swastika and the Hakenkreuze. Look for the tilt. But also, look for the people who are using the symbol also and where they are using it. Hindus will often use reds and saffron colors to draw the Swastika on doors and as decorations. I can’t speak to how Buddhists and Jains use the symbol, but next time I’ll ask someone about it and educate myself.
Additionally, the name Aryan or Aaryan is a beautiful Sanskrit word that is a common Indian baby name meaning “light” or “illustrious.” Aryan can also refer to the group of people that invaded India in the 2nd millennium BC.
However, Hitler and the Nazi party also manipulated the term “Aryan” believing that there existed a “master race” of people who look a certain way.
Swastikas, Hakenkreuze, Aryan - these are all unfamiliar words but education and awareness is how we can grow.
So please, before you report someone or automatically feel hate and fear when you see any of these symbols and terms, try and find out a little more information. We cannot automatically assume the worst in people."
A quick internet search of the word will also relate Swastika and the Nazi symbol, which in fact, is not correct. Swastika is a very pure symbol, like Padma says in her post. Dallas has a mix of people coming from various cultures and it is important that we educate ourselves. The next we see our neighbors decorating their doors or strangers pulling into a gas station and we notice it on their steering wheel, we will now understand what it stands for and the religious significance behind it.
It is also important to note that we need to be really mindful of all the information that floats around through social media and be selective of what we consume through it. Research, educating ourselves before judging and spreading awareness can bring so much insight.