The peak body for Australian Hindus has signalled its intention to fight for all Hindu girls in Catholic schools to be allowed to wear a nose piercing as a symbol of their faith.
The Hindu Council of Australia said Catholic school teachers needed to be more aware of Hindu traditions and sensitivities after The West Australian last week revealed Aranmore Catholic College student Sanya Singhal, 15, had been barred from classes for wearing a nose stud for cultural reasons.
The college rules state that students cannot have any facial piercings, but Sanya’s mother, Kalyani, said the school made exceptions for Muslim girls by allowing them to wear headscarves and the nose pin had spiritual significance in her culture.
The school has said that Mrs Singhal agreed to abide by the facial piercing policy when she enrolled her daughter.
The council said it would seek a meeting with Catholic education chiefs to explain the purpose of the nose piercing ritual.
“Hindu Council of Australia is keen on taking up the general issue of Catholic schools permitting religious symbols of non-Christian students in their schools,” it said in a statement on its website.
“It is understood that all Catholic schools permit Sikh students to wear turbans and similar exemptions exist for some other religions also.
“Hindu Council would like to explain that nose piercing is not a fashion or rebellion statement of a teenager but is a deep-rooted cultural and religious ritual for girls going through puberty.”
The council said it hoped to discuss the issue of nose piercing by young girls with the Catholic hierarchy so it could disseminate the information to all Catholic schools in Australia.
“The recent misunderstanding among Catholic schools about Hindu culture and traditions has a potential of affecting the harmony between our communities in Australia and the reputation of Catholic schools among Indians,” it said.
A spokeswoman for Catholic Education WA said it was not aware of any approach from the Hindu Council.