April 24 2014, updated 11:41am

Hindu 'swastika' causes offence

Last updated 14:29 13/05/2008
JASON OXENHAM/Central Leader
CONTROVERSIAL SYMBOL: This emblem was painted as a sign of religious devotion, but is upsetting the neighbours.

Relevant offers

A World War Two veteran captured by Germans and held prisoner for three years is reminded of his torment every time he looks out the window of his house.

The Mt Roskill man’s neighbours have painted a large white symbol – resembling a swastika – on their roof.

He says the symbol, painted late last year, is distasteful.

"If I could get rid of it I would," says the man, who didn’t want to be named.

"It’s not necessary, it’s actually stupid. It’s insulting to the neighbours."

But Ambrish Gupta says when he painted the symbol, he didn’t mean to offend anyone.

He simply did it as a sign of his religious devotion.

In the Hindu religion, the swastika is the symbol of the god Ganesha, who is acknowledged at the beginning of prayers.

Mr Gupta painted it on his roof as a symbol of protection for his family and house.

He says he had no idea it had another meaning in western culture – as the mark of the Nazi regime – when he painted it.

"If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have done it," he says.

Another neighbour, whose house gives her a direct view of Mr Gupta’s roof, says she doesn’t particularly like it.

"When it first went up, I thought it was an insult."

Mr Gupta says now that he’s aware the painting is upsetting some people, he will have it changed to look more like the Hindu symbol and less like the Nazi version.

It already has dots in between the arms and there will be extra pieces added.

"It will be a little bit different. I hope with a bit of change it will not disturb people."

Sandringham man Lindsay Johnston noticed the painting on the roof in April when he was working on Carr Rd.

He says he was horrified.

"I find it very offensive."

Mr Johnston is worried that it will be visible to traffic when the new motorway is built through the area.

"People will be driving along wondering what kind of a country this is," he says.

Mr Johnston says he went to the police about the painting, but they referred him to the Auckland City Council, who were also unable to help.

"The council has no authority and there is no authority it can be referred to," says a council spokeswoman.

"If it was a sign, a complaint could be made to the Advertising Standards Authority but it is not advertising anything."

Ad Feedback

Mr Johnston also wrote to Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff to complain about the symbol, who visited the house and talked to Mr Gupta.

"We spoke to the owners of the house who are very decent people and who were most concerned that the emblem had been misinterpreted," says Mr Goff.

"Far from being a white power group identifying with the policies of Hitler, the family’s beliefs are in fact the opposite.

"They are anxious that people understand what the symbol actually means and their motivation for having it on their house."

- © Fairfax NZ News

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will higher interest rates hurt you?

Yes, I'm not happy

No, I planned for them

Bring them on, I'm a saver

Vote Result

Related story: Reserve Bank lifts interest rate

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content

daily fix
Dilbert cartoon

Cartoons

The Little Things, Dilbert, Tom Scott and others

sudoku

Puzzles

Test your mind with our puzzles

What do the stars have in store for you today?

Horoscopes

What do the stars have in store for you today?

Today in History

Today in history

Dig into New Zealand's archives

social media

Facebook Twitter Instgram Google Plus

Newsletters

Newsletters

Decide what news you want to receive when it suits you

Homepage

Make us your homepage

Keep up with the latest news by making us your homepage