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Nov 2007 ,   A 14-year-old girl has been excluded from a school in south Wales for wearing a Sikh bangle, or Kara.  Sarika Singh refused to take off the religious symbol because it is  “a constant reminder to do good”.

Kara As you can see from the photograph, Sarika’s kara is hardly ostentatious or luxe— I mention that because that was the rational which my private school had for outlawing jewelry…so girls couldn’t flaunt wealth by dripping in gold, diamonds, filthy lucre.

Aberdare Girls School said it has a clear code of conduct and it had temporarily excluded a pupil for refusing to accept a governors’ ruling.

The school also stated that a “code of conduct” had been distributed to every student before they commenced attending Aberdare AND that it was reissued before every semester. Said code only allows a watch and “plain metal stud earrings”. I guess that means crosses, pentagrams, and super-cute star-of-David pendants aren’t permitted. Then again, none of those necklaces are part of anything like the 5 Ks:

The Sikh Federation UK said that the bangle was an “article of faith”and Sikhs had no choice but to wear it.

Sarika’s parent, Sinita Singh, is not being unreasonable:

  • She said the teenager would remove the bangle for gym classes, or wood and metalwork, for safety reasons.
  • Mrs Singh said: “It’s not jewellery, it’s part of our faith and symbol of our belief.”
  • She said they had a meeting with the school and argued the case with the board of governors, but they refused to  allow her to wear it.

“We feel very strongly that Sarika has a right to manifest her religion- she’s not asking for anything big and flashy, she’s not making a big fuss, she just wants a reminder of her religion.”

Apparently, Sarika has been suspended (hey, UK types…is that what “excluded” means?) for wanting to wear her kara.

nbangleSarika said of wearing the bangle: “It’s very important to me, it constantly reminds me to do good and not to do bad, especially with my hands.”

Her mother said the Sikh Federation had supported them and she would do “whatever it takes”. Maybe the law is on Sarika’s side?

Jagtar Singh, secretary of Sikh Federation UK claimed the school was breaching the 1976 Race Relations Act in its treatment of Sarika.

“The department for education and schools in England have said that if a headteacher or governing body were to deny a Sikh child one of their articles of faith such as the bangle then they would be breaking the law,” he said.“If you are a practising Sikh, you have no choice, you have to have the kara. It is the one symbol that virtually every single Sikh wears.”

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