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Femina, Aruna Irani Face Sikh Protests

On January 11, 2005, The Indian Express reported: " 'There was no intention to hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community . . . nor to incite any member of the Sikh community to act against the tenets of their religion. It, however, appears that the sentiments of members of the Sikh community have been hurt by the article and hence (we) offer our sincere apologies to them,' a National Commission for Minorities [N.C.M.] statement quoted Femina editor Sathya Saran as saying in an apology to be published in the magazine's next issue. In their reaction, the community leaders . . . said the matter would be closed after the apology is published. 'Mistakes do happen. But admitting them is responsible journalism. The matter will be closed for good when the apology is published in the magazine,' Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (D.S.G.M.C.) leader Manjit Singh said."

U.N.I., New Delhi, Dec. 17, 2004

Sikh leaders today vowed widespread protests against popular magazine Femina for carrying an article [in the December issue] they alleged aimed at provoking a revolt among their young generation against the faith.

The write-up titled 'Fake Hair for Stupid Sardarnis recounts author Kirat Kaur Chandhok's 'rebellion' against the Sikh tradition of keeping unshorn hair, one of the key articles of the faith.

'We will hold widespread protests and are taking legal action against the magazine for running this blasphemous article that we believe is a covert attempt to influence the young minds of the Sikh community to revolt against the faith,' Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (D.S.G.M.C.) general secretary Ravinder Singh Khurana told a news conference here.

The Sikh leaders will also move the Press Council of India [P.C.I.] in this regard, he added. 'The publishers have failed in their primary duty to realise that the article will severly hurt the sensitibilities of the followers of Sikhism that attaches great significance to uncut hair, one of the faith's five Ks,' Mr. Khurana said.

Actor Aruna Irani's popular soap opera Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand also drew protests from the committee for showing a Sikh character performing a fire ritual, an act prohibited in Sikhism.

'The scene showed a Sikh with flowing beard peforming a fire ritual in utter disregard of the religion's founding principles. It deserves strong condemnation and the serialmakers should come out with an unconditional apology,' Mr. Khurana said.