hospital pays $20,000 for shaving NRI Sikh patient’s beard
New York, April 14, 2009
NRI Pyara Singh Sahansra, elderly man, was suffering from Altzheimer
disease and a patient at Westchester Medical Center, New York
in 2007. Sahansra’s family requested the hospital staff
and placed a sign on his bed that no hair should be cut or shave
from his body.
Ignoring all requests, Medical Center staff discarded the signs
and shaved off Singh's beard, eyebrows and moustache. After one
month of the incident, he died
Singh's family said, it is against a Sikh's religious practice
to cut his or her hair, as kesh (unshorn hair) covered by a dastaar
(Sikh turban) is one of five articles of faith which a Sikh must
keep at all times. For him the use of razor or shaving the chin
shall be as sinful as incest.
The Westchester County Healthcare was sued by singh's faimy for
violating his religious principles. Singh's lawyer said:
- Maintaining uncut hair and wearing a turban are an especially
important part of the Sikh way of life.
- The Sikh Code of Conduct, called the Rahit Maryada, outlines
the requirements for practicing the Sikh way of life.
- As a result, the forcible cutting of the hair is perceived
as the most humiliating and hurtful physical injury that can
be inflicted upon a Sikh.
According to the Singh's lawyer: now it's resolved, his family
received $20,000 in compensation and we are very pleased with
Pyara Singh’s son, Upinderjit Singh said, "This was
a very difficult time for my family to face, especially for my
mother. My father was a devout Sikh and we all experienced a shock
when his kesh were cut by the nurse.”