Divergent Meanings

For this week’s challenge, please examine the following image:

This is a Hindu temple in India.  (Photo credit: Victor Radziun)

This is a Hindu temple in India. (Photo credit: Victor Radziun)

Many of you surely noticed the swastika first and reacted more strongly to it than anything else in the image.  You already know the reason: it served as Nazism’s most prominent symbol and, as such, it represents hatred, war, and Fascism in many Western countries.

However, this picture comes from a distant cultural tradition in which the symbol has a more admirable history:

It was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being.” The motif (a hooked cross) appears to have first been used in Neolithic Eurasia, perhaps representing the movement of the sun through the sky. To this day it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in India or Indonesia. Swastikas also have an ancient history in Europe, appearing on artifacts from pre-Christian European cultures.

Quoted from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website

If you’re familiar with the symbol’s longstanding role in Hindu culture, you were surely more appalled to see the graffiti on this Hindu temple than you were to discover swastikas on prominent display.

For this week’s challenge, think of another object or event that projects radically different meanings depending on the viewer or participant.  Then, write a true or fictional story (or even a poem) that incorporates the differing perceptions people have of your chosen topic.

Compose and publish your response to this prompt on your own blog.  Be sure to include a link to this post so that a pingback will appear here, thereby allowing other participants to discover your work.  Please be patient if your pingback does not appear immediately; I am not at my computer 24/7 and I have to approve all pingbacks.  For this reason, using the bcandelabra tag may be advisable.


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