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Confusion over ‘swastika’, Hindu Sangam denies ban


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17: Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R.S. Mohan clarified that he never sought for the Hindu swastika symbol to be completely banned from Malaysia, but a ban against it being “misused”.

“No actually I was wrongly quoted, what I mean is because lots of Hindu symbols are misused by some groups, such as gangsters and even some clubs, they have misused our symbols, like the swastika and the Sanskrit “Aum”.

 “So what we told PDRM in 2013, when the police arrested people with tattoos on their body, they find that the Hindu symbols was tattooed on their body and some people who were not associated with the gang, but had the Hindu symbols tattooed on was also arrested.

“Then a conflict came about, so we advised the police saying that these are Hindu symbols you can’t arrest them, unless they misuse the symbol.

“We have banned the Hindu symbols from being misused, not completely banning the symbol,” Mohan told The Malaysian Times (TMT).

Mohan said that he had explained to the press that after is discussion in 2013 with the Deputy commissioner of the crime branch in Bukit Aman at that time that, arrest regarding the symbols should be identified by the Malaysian Hindu Sangam.

Mohan was referring to the case last week, where the police detained 20 people, including three schoolchildren to facilitate investigations into a group which carried a ‘kavadi’ bearing the swastika emblem during Thaipusam.

The group is believed to have contravened the law during the Thaipusam parade in Jalan Utama, Penang, on Feb 9.

According to Mohan, the Swastika symbol used on the Kavadi is not the exact Hindu swastika.

“The kavadi that they took the other day is the symbol of swastika, but not exactly the Hindu symbol of swastika.

“The symbol was modified, the Hindu Swastika is slanted downwards to the right, whereas this is pointed up,” said Mohan.

The swastika is the symbol of peace in Hinduism and Buddhism; artefacts dating back to 10,000BC have also been discovered barring the symbol.

However, with the Hindu swastika spun counter-clockwise by 45 degrees it becomes the symbol of Nazism, which is where the negativity towards the swastika was first spurred.

Last year, Hindu Sangam had released a guideline which stated that swastika and other insignificant symbols were “not allowed” to be used during Thaipusam.

On Monday, The Star Online reported Mohan Shan as saying that the sign was banned at Hindu festivities for the past four years.

“We agreed that some gangs used altered religious symbols like the swastika as their emblems.

“The one on the kavadi was modified to look like the much feared symbol of the Nazis,” said Mohan, adding that the original swastika symbol was an embodiment of Lord Ganesha.

Mohan was commenting on the arrest of 20 youths for being involved in the use of the kavadi bearing the symbol on Thaipusam day.–TMT

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