Hair hosts a variety of meaning that range from culture and fashion, to beauty and security. It is little wonder that hair loss can be inherently devastating, no matter how small a degree. But for the parents of a 14-year-old Brahmin boy whose principal cut of his tuft of hair before a religious ritual, fury is a better way to describe it.
Father Frank Fernandes of St Jude’s High School, Sakinaka cut off the hair that Pravesh Dubey had been growing since he was a year old, allegedly because it violated the school’s dress code. Pravesh was shocked.
“I had gone to the principal’s cabin to collect my fees calendar. He was furious to see that I had not cut my hair. He asked me to turn my back towards him, and took out a pair of scissors from his drawer. I pleaded with him, but he beat me up and snipped off my tuft. When he was about to throw it into the dustbin, I asked him to give it to me,” Pravesh said.
The boy’s parents have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the principal for allegedly beating up their son and hurting their religious sentiments.
Pravesh was growing his hair until he turned 15, after which time he would cut it following a religious ceremony. Although school authorities say they had given the boy several warnings, his parents say they had asked the principal to grant him leeway until the ceremony in April.
“We have been warning the boy and his parents to cut the tuft of hair. According to the school’s dress code, students can neither have long hair nor can they grow such tufts,” said a representative of the school management.
“My son was not growing his hair for fashion. We were supposed to cut it off according to our rituals,” Mrs Dubey said. “We had requested Father Fernandes to excuse us up to April.”
Secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, Father Gregory Lobo, said lopping of the boy’s hair was a mistake.
“I agree that there are dress codes and rules set up by the school. But we would not touch anything that has religious significance to someone,” he said. “The principal could have taken this step, had the tuft of hair been kept for fashion’s sake. In this case, the principal is wrong.”
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