Is It Wrong To Wear Om?

Most people are unaware of this, but there is a bit of a conflict in India when it comes to wearing om symbols. When traveling to India, westerners are encouraged not to wear the symbol unless they understand its meaning and history in Hinduism; this is because om is considered to be so sacred. So the question becomes is it possible to wear the om symbol even though we’re not a Hindu?

SEE ALSO: The 6 Lokas Of Buddhism

The Eastern Mentality

The om symbol has a deep and rich history, because it’s been in Hinduism almost as long as the people of India have lived there. In case you’re wondering, that’s about 3,500 years!

But more than that, om is actually cross-cultural and cross-religious in the east: Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism have their own interpretations and spin on the meaning of om. But in the traditional belief, om is a symbol of the universe and the sound of creation. This would put the om on the same level of importance of the Christian cross; not exactly something to sneeze at. So sometimes, people from India can get a little offended when they see what they think is a flippant view of om. In fact, I once saw a Hindu complain to a business owner that the om symbol was on a mat at the entrance of a yoga studio. She didn’t like the fact that people were stepping on it.

The Western Mentality

In the west, as a whole, we tend to view the om as more of a fashion statement. Lots of young people wear om in clothing and tattoos, because they think it looks cool and is a bit of a counter-cultural thing to do.



Is It Wrong To Wear Om?

The Resolution

Wearing the om symbol doesn’t have to be something you do blindly. In the west, we tend to take for granted the idea that we can kind of put our spin on everything without acknowledging its history and meaning; and this can sometimes be annoying to other cultures. But if we can even have a slight understanding of what om is and its deep significance, then suddenly that doesn’t become an issue.

Om, especially, is cross-cultural…so knowing about it is enough to show your respect. Take a few minutes and learn about the symbol om if you haven’t already. Check out our infographic, The Om Symbol BreakdownI promise you wont regret it!

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Matt Caron

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Matt is the content manager of the Sivana blog, an enthusiastic Yoga teacher, and life voyager. He strives to inspire…

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