Wednesday, June 22, 2005


At last night’s Heeb Magazine Storytelling event, Aimee Bender gave a great skit about wedding preparations with her non-jewish fiancee (and current ex-husband). As a predictor of things to come, she talked about visiting his family and seeing a drum with a pink swastika drawn on it. It was, his family explained, an important American Indian symbol, and they wanted to revive it as such.

My swastika encounter came about 10 years ago. I did some consulting for a technolgy startup called XaqTi. What did the name mean, I asked. The founders, one Chinese, and the other Indian, explained that it was a word that had similar meanings in Indian and in Chinese. In Chinese, it meant strength, or power. In Indian, spelled Shakti, it meant the source of strength or virility.

A couple of months later I visited India for the first time. Shakti, I learned, was the consort of the Hindu god Shiva. It was amusing to think of the description I’d been given – “the source of strength or virility”. And the symbol for Shakti? A swastika. In fact, I found swastikas all over India. I found it unnerving. I loved India, but I really wanted them to find a Shakti alternative. This is a symbol that should be retired. Shakti as a company name? Bad idea in my opinion.


At 1:48 AM, Blogger AKC said...

Needless to say it was the Nazis who misappopriated the swastika and since they're not really that big any more it seems that it's our our brains that need re-programming not Indian art.


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