Three mayors from all over BC proclaimed July 3, 2023 as “Guru Purnima Day” at the request of the United States of Kailasa.
It would have been an honest effort on the part of the cities of Surrey, Victoria and Nanaimo to hold a Hindu festival focused on offering respect to spiritual and academic gurus.
The only problem: Kailasa is not a real place.
Kailasa is a self-proclaimed “great cosmic nation without borders,” and its founder is a so-called Hindu swami, Nithyananda, who, according to proclamations signed by three mayors, is the “Supreme Pontiff of Hinduism” and “head of 21 ancient Indian kingdoms of the Hinduism”.
He has also been wanted in India since he left in 2019 after being charged in several cases, including rape and sexual assault.
Nithyananda, who claims to be the living incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva, has publicly denied the allegations against him.
Breaking: reached out to Kailasa for comment but did not receive a response by the deadline.
Since Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke signed the proclamation in June 2023, the City of Surrey has rescinded it.
Surrey corporate services told Breaking: in a statement that it “was signed in error and does not have the support of Mayor Locke.”
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog declined an interview with Breaking:, but said in a statement that “like Surrey, we don’t pay much attention, and this one slipped under the radar to everyone’s shame. A lesson learned.”
Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto was not available for comment.
An ongoing scheme
This is not the first time that a made-up nation has tricked elected officials into signing official documents and decrees in support of it.
In November 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed a letter supporting the celebration of Kailasa Hindu Heritage Month.
In March 2023, the city of Newark, New Jersey was burado in agreeing to a “sister city” partnership with the fictional nation, which the city council rescinded just six days later.
In February 2023, Kailasa representatives spoke at two meetings at a United Nations conference in Geneva. The first was a debate on the equal representation of women in decision-making systems, organized by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the second, on the subject of sustainable development, organized by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural. Rights.
According to a statement sent by the United Nations to Breaking:, the general discussions are public meetings open to any interested person, although the statements made by the United States representatives of Kailasa would not be included in the official reports as “irrelevant”. to the topic of the general discussion” and were “tangential to the topic at hand.
The list goes on.
According to Kailasa websitesome 30 American cities have signed some form of “certificates of appreciation” with the imaginary land.
A bid for legitimacy
Stewart Prest, a professor of political science at Simon Fraser University, says that Kailasa representatives are trying to use their official letters of recognition to apply a veneer of validation to their organization.
“The search for legitimacy is part of a much larger campaign to convince the world that this organization is legitimate and normal when perhaps the opposite is true,” Prest said.
Prest says it might sound like a funny joke at first glance, but once you look into the organization’s history, it takes on a darker tone and raises an important question about how these proclamations are signed.
“Legitimacy is a resource, and if someone who doesn’t deserve it is using this tactic to appear legitimacy, then that really makes it clear that politicians and city governments need to be more careful about doing a little more care and due diligence.”