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Hindus laud “Teachable Moment” for Australia after Sanya reinstated

Hindus welcome return of Hindu girl Sanya, to school at Aranmore College with her nose stud on

Melbourne, March 19: Hindu girl, Sanya Singhal, who was expelled from Aranmore Catholic College in Leederville, Perth for wearing nose stud; has returned to school after about six weeks stand-off.

Hindus are calling it a “Teachable Moment” for Australia.

Upon Sanya’s reinstatement at Aranmore, Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism said that Australia should understand that it had evolved into a diverse multi-cultural society.

“It was time now that Australia seriously started having a feel for the religious and cultural sensitivities of all Australians, including minorities and new citizens,” he said.

Zed thanked Sue Ellery, Western Australia Government Minister for Education and Training and Leader of the Legislative Council for informing that the Department was “enquiring into the matter”.

Aranmore College principal, Declan Tanham, in an email to Zed today, confirmed that “Sanya Singhal has returned to school.”

Sanya, 15, was earlier barred from her school after she had her nose pierced for “cultural and religious reasons”.

Sanya’s mother, Kalyani, said it was a spiritually significant custom in some parts of northern India for young girls to have a nose pin inserted to mark their transition to womanhood.

However, Sanya, who has been attending the school since Year 3, was ordered to remove the tiny new stud in her left nostril or go home.

Sanya, who is a year 10 student showed her teacher a note from her mother and tried to explain the stud could not be removed for 12 months for religious reasons, but was told she could not attend class until she took it out.

Upon Hindu Council taking up the issue of nose piercing restriction; Aranmore went shopping for a more favourable opinion to support its decision, according to Hindu Council.

It is understood that all Catholic schools permit Sikh students to wear turbans and similar exemptions exist for some other religions also.

The same school, Aranmore also permits Muslim girls to wear hijab.

Following the episode, upset Hindus Australian demanded that principal Declan Tanham of Aranmore be suspended, after it emerged that Sanya’s mother had offered to the principal that her daughter would cover the pin with a bandaid, but was told Sanya would have to change schools if she refused to remove it.

“They have exceptions for the Islamic girls by allowing them to wear their headscarf, but we were told our cultural needs are not relevant,” Ms Singhal said.

Aranmore rules stipulate no face piercings, but have discretionary allowance.

Sanya Singhal with her nose piercing

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said that “noses of girls in India were usually pierced around puberty and it found mention in ancient Ayurvedic texts”.

In a statement from Nevada, USA, he said that Hindus worldwide were shocked at this heart-breaking unilateral action of a college against a “good student”, simply for following her religious beliefs

According to Mr Zed, Aranmore College “denied the right to teenager Sanya Singhal to express her religious and cultural identity freely”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism had called for immediate reinstatement of Sanya, an apology issued to Sanya’s parents and “amend the uniform and grooming guidelines for future.

“It was shocking for the hard-working, harmonious and peaceful WA Hindu community, who had made lot of contributions to the state and society, to receive such signals of maltreatment,” Zed noted.

Aranmore is a Catholic 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.

Vir Rajendra

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