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WB: Parents protest after Govt school teacher prohibits student from wearing tilak, student alleges vegetarian students forced to eat non-veg food in mid-day meal

The teacher reportedly told the victim student that her tilak was hurting her eye and she should not wear it to school.

On Friday, June 14, parents of students enrolled in the state-sponsored Raghunathganj Higher Girls School in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, staged a protest against the school’s administration, after a teacher allegedly issued a diktat prohibiting Hindu students from wearing a tilak and Tulsi mala to school.

In Hinduism, both the tilak and the tulsi mala hold significant religious and spiritual importance. They are more than mere symbols; they carry deep cultural, devotional, and spiritual meanings.

According to local reports, one of the affected students also alleged that the school insists that the students should eat the mid-day meals provided to them by the authorities, but these meals have no vegetarian food to offer to the vegetarian students.

The incident came to the fore after one of the students of the school highlighted the issue to her parents, who in turn, approached the principal of the school.

The parents reached the school and protested outside the main gate of the school by singing bhajans. After the matter escalated, some sadhus and devotees of ISKCON also reached the school and joined the parents in their protest against the school management. The protestors demanded that the directive issued by the teacher be withdrawn with immediate effect.

In what transpired, the children had returned to school after their summer vacations. A class 8 student named Anu Mondal said that when she reached her class sporting a tilak, she was reprimanded by her class teacher Vashwati.

The teacher asked the child to remove the tilak. She reminded her how she had warned them against wearing tilaks to school before the school shut for the summer break. She was infuriated that the student did not obey her order. The teacher reportedly told the victim student that her tilak was hurting her eye and she should not wear it to school.

The student also complained that many students in the school are vegetarians, despite this, they are forced to eat non-vegetarian mid-day meals. 

The student was quoted by the local media as saying, “I requested madam to give in writing that I cannot come to the school wearing the tilak but madam did not sign. She kept scolding me. My hands and legs were shivering in fear,” she said.

Speaking about the controversy, District Inspector Amar Kumar Sheel said, there is no such government mandate that prohibits students from wearing a tilak to school. There should be no objection from the school authorities. I have spoken to the headmistress of the school.

Meanwhile, Karabi Nandi, the principal of the school said, “A teacher of the school had forbidden the student from wearing a tilak. I have enquired with higher authorities whether or not religious rites in schools may be accepted.” She added that at present there is no such rule banning Tilaks in the school, and anyone can practice their religion. “Girls can come to school wearing tilak. There’s no stopping it,” the principal said.

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