Sanya Singhal, a Hindu student, is a student in Aranmore Catholic College in Perth, WA and was told to remove her nose piercing if she wanted to continue studying in the College. The College’s dress code does not permit any facial piercing. This matter has been covered in the media. Since nose piercing has cultural and traditional basis for Hindus, we thought we should write to the College.
———————Our letter to Aranmore Catholic College—————————
Mr Declan Tanham
Principal, Aranmore Catholic College
41 Franklin St, Leederville WA 6007
Dear Mr Tanham,
We have become aware of the news involving a Hindu girl in your college. https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/aranmore-catholic-college-drama-hindu-student-kicked-out-of-school-for-a-nose-piercing-ng-b881097548z
There is some misunderstanding among various faith-based educational systems regarding Hinduism and its culture and traditions. This is often due to insufficient knowledge and awareness of Hindu religion and practices.
This can be dealt with if there is consultation between Aranmore Catholic College and local Indian/Hindu community in Perth. If religious symbols of other religions are permitted, then there cannot be any difficulty to do so for Hindu students. We understand that Catholic schools and other faith-based educational establishments rightly permit Sikh students to wear turbans and Muslim girls to wear Hijabs.
There might be some misunderstanding and confusion in regards to nose piercing for Hindu girls. For Hindu girls, nose piercing has cultural and traditional meaning. It is not a fashion or rebellion statement.
We urge you to review your decision. It will be good if the Catholic Educational establishment initiates a dialogue with the local Indian/Hindu community to have a better understanding of Hindu/Indian culture and practices.
Dr Yadu Singh, President, 0413 375 669
—————————Response from Aranmore Catholic College————————————-
Dear Doctor Singh
Thank you for your email.
Our school is a multi-cultural school which welcomes all cultures. We have had many Hindu students who have attended our school over the years. We also have an Intensive English programme for mostly refugee students.
We have a Hindu on our School Board and I am meeting with a Hindu priest today to seek some clarity around this matter.
As you know we are a Catholic School and when we enrol students we seek agreement from our parents to support our college policies. If they choose to do so, then the enrolment can proceed. The media and those agitating are portraying this as an issue around Hinduism. Clearly, it is not, as our policy is administered with all students. Incidentally, virtually all non-government schools in Perth have the same policy.
I am trying to gain an understanding of the significance of the nose ring as I have received conflicting views around the wearing of the nose ring (from Hindu people). The common feedback which I have received has suggested that wearing the nose ring is a choice and not a religious obligation, although it has religious significance. I am told that some do wear it and some don’t.
Given that is the case I offered the family the option of keeping the nose ring in and removing it whilst she is at the school. I feel that this is a fair compromise but the family have rejected it.
The family rejected this compromise.
There are hundreds of girls in private schools in Perth, who comply with their school expectations and agreements around uniform and do not wear the nose ring.
As you know schools have rules and we have processes for reviewing them from time to time, but not through the media. Rules are difficult in schools as students wish to select which ones they wish to comply with and which ones they don’t.
I do thank you for your measured response and the information contained within, I assure you Hindus are welcome at this school and the ones who are present are thriving.
Many believe that it is simply an issue of Catholics being unaware of Hindu traditions and cultural practices. It is possible to resolve it by a discussion with Catholic school establishment.
Indian Australian community in Western Australia and elsewhere has taken this matter up with the College. Mr Prashant Parihar from Federation of Indian Associations of WA (FIANWA) has spoken with the principal of the college. It is important that important traditional symbols of non-christian students are permitted in Catholic schools in a manner which is fair and doesn’t disrupt the environment for education. Some have indicated that Catholic schools rightly permit Sikh students to wear turbans and Muslim girls to wear Hijabs. Nose piercing is not a fashion or rebellion statement of a Hindu teenager but is a well-entrenched, although not universally practised, a cultural and traditional ritual for Hindu girls, when they achieve menarche.
Many believe that a meeting between Catholic Education establishment and Indian Australian community reps, especially those who are from the Hindu faith, will resolve the issue and misunderstanding.
Dr Yadu Singh