More than 25,000 people across Canada have signed the petition to recognize Hinduphobia as a term to describe anti-Hindu discrimination.
The petition, e-4507, is now awaiting presentation in the House of Commons next month. Melissa Lantsman, the MP who sponsored the petition, will open the discussion.
“Our petition aims to highlight the rising Anti-Hindu sentiment and Hinduphobia throughout Canada. Hindu Canadians increasingly fear for their safety and well-being,” said a media release from the Canadian Organization for Hindu Heritage Education, the group behind the petition. “Spreading false information about Hindu dharma fuels prejudice against Hindus, creating an environment where violence is anticipated and even incited.”
Shruthi Choudury, a Toronto resident and one of the Hindus who signed the petition, said she has experienced multiple instances of micro-aggressions and some targeted questions about her identity as a Hindu.
“There was an instance where my Airbnb host was eating beef in front of me and said: ‘Oh, I am sorry, I am eating your god.’ It was downright derogatory.”
Choudhury has also faced instances where she was told she wouldn’t attain salvation as she did not worship a god that belonged to other religions.
Ruchi Wali, a resident of Pickering, Ont. who endorsed the petition, said: “Visiting temples only to witness their desecration is deeply hurtful. It’s equally disheartening when individuals refer to a Bindi merely as a dot, oblivious to its profound cultural significance.”
Wali, who is a Kashmiri Hindu, described a recent incident involving a Halloween item displayed in a grocery store that depicted a Yoga pose. For many in the Hindu community, Yoga represents a spiritual conduit to the divine.
“Upon expressing my concerns to the store’s management, they promptly removed the item,” she said. “It’s unsettling because Halloween decorations typically evoke humour or fear.”
Shilpashree Jagannathan is a journalist from India. She now lives in Toronto and has worked as a business reporter for leading newspapers in India. She has tracked telecom, infrastructure, and real estate news developments and has produced podcast series. She currently focuses on human rights, feminist movements, and other related issues in Canada and India. Her weekends are spent bird watching in one of the Toronto birding hotspots; she loves trails, biking, and a lot of sun.