I am learning that it is important not to assume another culture interprets something the same way I do. This insight hit me after seeing this building along the road in India: At first glance, my reaction was negative – why in the world was someone displaying a symbol of the Nazi party so blatently on a building? After a couple of minutes of thinking, I hoped there was a reason other than someone supporting Nazi views. Thankfully, when I returned to my room, with the help of a quick Google search, I realized it was a Hindu religious symbol – quite a positive one, at that. I learned the name comes the Sanskrit word svasti (sv = well; asti = is), meaning good fortune, luck and well-being. Here is a link if you want to learn more about the positive meanings of this old symbol: http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/symbols/swastika.htm
I also did a closer look at the Hindu symbol versus the Nazi symbol, and noted something kind of interesting – compare these two photos: Looks like Hitler twisted the symbol to go along with his twisted views – certainly not what the symbol was intended to represent. I’m just glad that I learned about a good interpretation of a symbol that I had always thought of as bad.
One thought on “Lost in Translation – is that a swastika I see?”
So glad you took the time to see if your first impression was correct. You are so right that different cultures often interpret the same thing differently.