Campus controversy over use of Hindu symbol

November 6, 1988

Campus controversy over use of Hindu symbol

The South Asian Students’ Association (EKTA) put up flyers Sunday night publicizing their Diwali celebration. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, marks the beginning of the new year for Hindus and is an important, widely celebrated holiday in India and other South Asian countries. The EKTA flyers contained a Hindu symbol for auspiciousness and benediction that had been appropriated by the Nazis during World War Two to create the Nazi swastika. The Jewish chaplain Yechiael Lander as well as some other Smith community members took offense at the posters, which were put up right before the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, was a night of vandalism of Jewish businesses, burning of Jewish synagogues, and deportation of German Jews that took place on November 10th, 1938. EKTA printed new posters but did not take down the old posters, citing the positive meaning the Hindu symbol held in many South Asian cultures and hoping that after the misinterpretation was cleared up that there would be a more positive reaction.

The full Sophian article on the controversy can be found here (1, 9).

Sophian letters to the editor can be found here, here, here and here.

[Last updated on October 21, 2018]