Worldwide Hindus, upset by the recent kicking out of a Hindu teenager from Aranmore Catholic College (ACC) in Leederville (Perth, Australia) for wearing a tiny nose stud, are thinking of approaching His Holiness Pope Francis to expose the “un-Catholic” practices of West Australian church.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that denying a God-loving and God-fearing “good student” the right to education, simply because she wanted to express her religious and cultural identity freely, was clearly against the values for which the Roman Catholic church and Pope Francis stood for.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that in this case ACC even did not hesitate to violate the “Mission & Values” of Sisters of Mercy (who founded it in 1903); which included working passionately against the denial of human rights, racism, oppression of women, mistreatment of immigrants; and focusing on changing unjust systems.
Rajan Zed further said that despite being aware of this unholy and discriminatory act of ACC; Roman Catholic Archbishop of Perth Timothy Costelloe, Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia (WA) Chair Bishop Gerard Holohan and Catholic Education WA Executive Director Debra Sayce did not come to the rescue of this teenager Sanya Singhal. Was not love and compassion for the defenseless the hallmark of Catholic ethics? Zed asked.
Zed noted that there was still time to right the wrongs committed and urged the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference lead by General Secretary Stephen P. Hackett to immediately intervene, admit the mistake, suspend ACC principal Declan Tanham, dissolve the ACC Board lead by chairperson Joe Monterosso, reinstate and apologize to Sanya and her parents, issue a formal apology, and amend the ACC “Uniform and Grooming Guidelines” accordingly for future.
It was shocking and heart-breaking for Hindu communities worldwide to see a 15-year old Australian defenseless student harassed and tormented simply for following her religious beliefs and sincerely believing that wearing a nose stud was part of her religion and culture, Rajan Zed pointed out.
This student was apparently honoring the tradition of her family, who were reportedly of India descent, by putting a stud in her pierced nose. Nose piercing and nose ornaments had been a tradition of women of India for centuries and the Hindu goddesses had been depicted wearing nose ornaments, Zed added.
Rajan Zed stated that they respected the school dress code policy as long as it did not violate the traditions and beliefs of the pupils. Noses of girls in India were usually pierced around puberty and it reportedly found mention in ancient Ayurvedic text. Old architecture and paintings of India depicted the presence of tradition of nose ornaments and Indian poets had been singing their praise.
ACC, which describes itself as “a school with spirit”, is a co-educational school for years 7–12 with about 700 students. Catholic Education system, WA’s second largest, educates over 73,000 in 163 schools/colleges in the state “with a focus on the development of the whole person”.