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In 2008, four Sikh students in Chandigarh, India, applied to medical school as Sikhs. They were denied admission because they had cut their hair; the college claimed that by cutting their hair, the students were no longer Sikhs.


In response, the students sent a petition to the high courts in India.


Many young Sikhs are cutting their hair, according to the Washington Post. In fact, the number may be as many as 75%. But for traditional Sikhs, long hair wrapped up in a turban means you are Sikh. It is a visible sign of religious affiliation and belief.


In most religions, removing headgear does not remove one’s status as a follower of that religion — unless of course one removes the headgear because they no longer follow that religion. But this could all change for Sikhs depending on how the courts respond. Their decision could mean that if a Sikh cuts his hair, he is no longer Sikh.


Read the full article for the history of decisions and violence surrounding the turban and long hair.


Other types of religious headgear

Sikhism isn’t the only religion to include mandates on headgear. Here are a few examples of others:


-Buddhist monks typically shave their heads as the Buddha did, as a sign of ascetic life. 


-Some Muslim women choose (or are subjected, depending on whom you ask and what country you’re in) to wear the hijab, a head covering intended as a display of modesty


-Some Jewish men wear yarmulkes, also known as kippahs or skull caps, as a sign of humility and a reminder of their relationships with God. Jews are not required to wear the skull cap at all times, and most do not. Many choose to wear the skull cap in public as a sign of religiosity, during holidays, or while visiting Israel.


-The habit is the traditional uniform of Catholic nuns, which includes a veil. Most nuns are no longer required to wear the habit, but many still choose to wear the veil and uniform. Learn more about the reasons for the habit on A Nun’s Life. Learn about other Catholic headgear in this Wiki article. 


What do you think? Is hair and headgear just that? Or is it a sign of something more? Do you wear religious headgear or wear your hair a certain way to reflect your beliefs?

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One Response to “Sikh Students Challenge Hair Requirement”

  • King Singh:

    its true that headgear in different faiths is similar but this is an extremely ethnocentric comparison. each religion is vastly different with extremely different cultural standards.

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