Ashton restaurant used ancient symbol to celebrate Diwali

Popular Indian restaurant Lily’s has defended its use of a swastika symbol on a welcome sign hanging outside its premises.

On a statement on its Facebook page the restaurant said:

“Hi everyone - just a bit of a notice/informative post this time around. The symbol that is used in this sign is a religious Hindu symbol. It is an ancient symbol of spirituality and represents auspiciousness and good luck. It has been recognised as this symbol since 3000 BC and still represents this for many Hindus around the world today. 

"We have been made aware that some comments have been circulating that imply we have this symbol up for other reasons and would like to make it clear that this isn’t the case.“

The discussion around the symbol started in an Ashton-Under-Lyne Facebook group. The majority of commenters supported Lily’s use of the ancient Hindu symbol though some questioned the wisdom of it considering the other connotations the symbol has acquired.

The swastika has been known as a symbol of good fortune for centuries, until it was hijacked by the Nazis. The fascist group tilted the original symbol by 40 degrees and also preferred to use black in its iconography. 

One Facebook commenter said: “This is a question that usually comes up when giving talks to schools and the wider community about Hinduism, whether in temples or elsewhere. I’ve never had any issues when explained properly regards the true meaning regardless of its appropriation. ‘Swasth’ literally translates to ‘be at peace’ or ‘wellbeing’. This is not just in Hinduism but many ancient cultures around the world. The symbol means the same today as it did 3000 years ago.”

Other commenters noted that the symbol is commonly seen all over South East Asia, where its ancient meaning outweighs any modern connotations.

Lilys Mfdf 2019
The Lily's team receives its MFDF award

Lily’s is in the middle of gearing up for celebrating Diwali, the festival of light, which symbolises the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance." The sign was put up as part of those celebrations, which commence on the 25th of October. The Mayor of Tameside Leigh Drennan recently took the opportunity to visit the restaurant kitchens to see preparations for himself. 

The Mayor commented: "Today I visited Lily’s for a pre Diwali event and was shown how hard all the staff there work. For people who don’t know Lily’s it’s an Ashton institution and draws people from all over the country to our town to try it. It’s an absolute must."

Parul, who runs the restaurant alongside her family, spoke out about how much the support from her local community has meant to her:

“Our customers know that we are not extremists or anything like that, and some who are aware of the background of the symbol have spoken up for us on social media so it has been quite humbling. It’s been nice to know that they appreciate us and that our intentions are purely peaceful and that we put it up as our traditional Hindu sign only. We have been here for over 45 years now and they understand what Lily’s and our family is all about, so we are really thankful for that.”

Lily’s was recently named 'Neighbourhood Restaurant of the Year' by the Manchester Food and Drink Festival. It began life as a cafe attached to the ASM Cash and Carry, providing the local community with good quality vegetarian Indian food at reasonable prices. Since then it has moved into bigger premises but continues to be an important part of the Ashton community.