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Pyara Singh Sahansra


NY hospital pays $20,000 for shaving NRI Sikh patient’s beard


New York, April 14, 2009
Jasbir Singh

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 this agreement.

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.”




NRI Pyara Singh Sahansra