Upset Hindus have welcomed the enquiry into kicking out a Hindu teenager for wearing a tiny nose stud in a Catholic school in Leederville (Western Australia).
Sue Ellery, Western Australia Government Minister for Education and Training and Leader of the Legislative Council, in a signed letter dated March six to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, wrote: The Department of Education, which regulates Catholic and other non-government schools in Western Australia, is enquiring into the matter… It is important that all students in Western Australia have full opportunity to attend school and maintain their cultural identity…Thank you for raising your concerns with me.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, thanked Ellery for taking the matter seriously, and for stressing the importance of maintaining “cultural identity” by students.
Rajan Zed urged the immediate reinstatement of reportedly suspended student Sanya Singhal, formal apology sent to her and her family by Aranmore Catholic College (ACC) admitting their mistake, compensation awarded to the student and family for the unnecessary suffering they faced, amending the College “Uniform and Grooming Guidelines”, suspension of the ACC principal, and thorough investigation of the ACC policies and procedures which seemed discriminatory and denied the right to this teenager to express her religious and cultural identity freely.
Zed said that 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.
Rajan Zed stated that Hindus worldwide were shocked at this heart-breaking unilateral action of a college against a “good student”, simply for following her religious beliefs and sincerely believing that wearing a nose stud was part of her religion and culture.
Moreover, with this action ACC, whose motto is TRUST and which claims to be a “welcoming community”, seemed to be violating its own stated “Beliefs and Values”: “As a multicultural community, we value diversity, believing that all should be accepted and celebrated” and “We believe in the inherent dignity of the individual”; Zed indicated.
Rajan Zed further said 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.
It was sad that despite Australia being a diverse multi-cultural society and despite Sanya reportedly bringing a note from her mother explaining the significance and background of the nose stud and even offering it to cover it with adhesive bandage, the school decided to kick her out; Zed added.
ACC, which describes itself as “a school with spirit”, is a co-educational school for years 7–12 founded by Sisters of Mercy in 1903. It has about 700 students and boasts over 60 nationalities amongst its 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”.