Two things that are probably misunderstood are cows and swastikas. Here is a little background for you on both!
So many people mistakenly think cows are “worshiped” in India and that is plain wrong. In Hinduism, they are not worshiped. They are respected and appreciated and even revered. Cows are a useful gift to mankind. Without them, there would be no milk, butter, ghee.
In fact, cows provide milk like mothers do, so they can be thought of as surrogate mothers to mankind for what they provide. Lord Krishna was a cowherd, and Lord Shiva’s vehicle was a bull, so there are roots for cows being important in Hinduism. Want to understand more about cows and what they mean to Hindus? Here’s a short and interesting site to check out.
The swastika has a very long history but it was so distorted by Hitler that so many people
all around the world see it only as a symbol of evil and hatred. In fact, the swastika was used more than 5000 years before Hitler “hijacked” it. The symbol means “good fortune” or “well being”. In Hinduism and some other religions, the swastika is still a sacred symbol. In fact, it is not uncommon to see it here in India. Today while at the mall, Brenda and I were looking at some beautiful Indian items in a culture store and saw a beautiful jeweled swag but rejected the notion of buying it because of the swastika on it. The simple act of displaying it would be misunderstood to the point of hostility. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website offers a really interesting history of the swastika.