American conservative political commentator and former television host Tomi Lahren made waves with her latest video thanking Donald Trump's Indian supporters.
In the video, in a bid to connect to the Indian diaspora, the Trump supporter translated the phrase 'wise as an owl' in Hindi and called the POTUS an 'ullu'.
Twitter had a field day mocking and trolling Lahren for using an insult to describe Trump’s followers.
A user wrote, "Umm. Who's gonna tell her? [for the uninitiated, in Hindi/Punjabi an owl (ullu) is not often associated with wisdom but the opposite. "Ullu ka pattha" = an insult]"
Another wrote, "I can't Face with tears of joy. 'President trump is wise like an ullu'. In hindi ullu means owl but used as an insult to consider someone a fool. We all can agree with tomi that Trump is an Ullu."
While Twitter is partially right for considering it to be an insult, it only accounts for the version in North India.
For Hindu Americans it has a culturally appropriate meaning that seconds the English phrase of the bird associated with wisdom.
While some have associated the owl with misfortune, she is also the vahan of the goddess of Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, power, luxury, beauty, fertility and wealth. It’s no surprise why the Hindu goddess of material fulfilment and contentment would appeal to Herr Trump and his supporters.
Owl as Lakshmi’s vahana
Owls sometimes are considered higher states of beings like angels or spirits. It's symbol of solitude. Lakshmi's vahana is also known as Uluka, a name used for Indra, King of Heaven. In the Gita, the owl is compared to an enlightened person, the disciplined yogi awake at night seeking knowledge.
The owl is also Alakshmi, Lakshmi's twin sister who emerged from the dark side of his face who is her antithesis. In some writing, the owl is called Pechaka, particularly in Bengal and it prays upon tinier pests.
Owls in other literature
For this generation, the owl will always be synonymous with the Harry Potter universe where they are usually used to deliver letters. In ancient Greek mythology, an owl is a sign of wisdom and focus associated to Goddess Athena, whereas Egyptians consider it to be a sign of bad luck.
The Romans think of it as a symbol of disaster, defeat, and famine, because death of many famous figures like Julius Caesar, Augustus, and Commodus, were all predicted by owls.
With that being said, scientifically speaking owls aren’t considered smarter than its contemporaries. According to worldbirds.org, problem-solving tests on owl’s intelligence show that they are not good at doing certain brain-related tasks. However, it came to be known as wise for its sharp sense of hunting.