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London: Sikhs in Britain will no longer face legal action for wearing turbans in majority of workplaces after the government announced a new set of rules on Thursday.
“Turban-wearing Sikhs will now have the right to choose not to wear head protection and will be exempt from legal requirements to wear a safety helmet in the majority of workplaces,” an official statement from the British government said.
Since 1989, Sikhs working in the construction industry have been exempted from rules requiring head protection but because of a legal loophole, those in less dangerous industries, such as those working in factories and warehouses, were not.
A new landmark clause was added to the Deregulation Bill 2015 to extend the existing exemption in the Employment Act to all workplaces.
“This change demonstrates that, whoever you are, whatever your background, and whatever industry you choose, if you work hard and want to get on in life, this government will be on your side,” Priti Patel, the Indian-origin minister for employment and Indian diaspora champion, was quoted as saying.
“As the prime minister’s Indian Diaspora Champion as well as employment minister, I’m delighted to be part of the government that has made this change. It makes me proud that Britain is the home of such a talented, ambitious and hardworking community,” she added.
As per the new rules, should an individual suffer injuries as a consequence of not wearing head protection, employers will be legally protected through the extension of limited liability.
“There are exclusions for emergency response services and the military, which apply only in hazardous operational situations when the wearing of a safety helmet is considered necessary,” the statement read.
This may include, for example, entering a burning building or those where protective clothing needs to enclose the whole body in situations such as bomb disposal, or dealing with hazardous materials like chemical leaks, biohazards or radiation.
This will not, however, bar Sikhs from the armed forces, police and fire services, and the new clause will make no blanket ban on participation by turban-wearing Sikhs. There are about 4,000 Sikhs in police and 230 across the armed forces.
Welcoming the new rules, Gurinder Singh Josan, spokesperson for Sikh Council, Britain, said: “We are pleased that parliament listened to our campaign and enabled this vital change in the law.”
“It will make a real difference to Sikhs in Britain by increasing the number of workplaces that turban wearing Sikhs can work in whilst maintaining their religiously mandated identity,” he added.
By Maria Wirth
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By- Devakinanda Ji!
ॐ त्रिकालसन्ध्यानुष्ठितभूम्यै नमः
(Ṫrikāla: Three periods of the day; Sandhya: Obeisance to Sun god; Anuṣthiṫa: Practice, performance)
The word sandhya refers to those times, when night passes into day and day passes into night. They are dawn and dusk. The ritual of one's obeisance to God during these periods is known as sandhyāvandanam. Doing the ritual thrice at dawn (prātah sandhyā), at midday when the sun is right above our head (madhyāhna sandhyā); and dusk (sāyantrah sandhyā) is known as trikāla.
A person who has undergone the upanayana ceremony, as also house-holders (except the working class), are expected to perform this sandhyā ritual three times a day, as a sacred duty. These three rituals have many steps in common. However, in practice, only the first and the last have survived. The scriptures have provided for this modification.
After taking a bath and wearing the traditional religious dress (dhoṫi and chadar or uttarīya) one should apply the religious marks on the forehead (like the vibhūti or the ūrdhva puṇḍra as per one's family traditions), and sit on the seat (kept aside and used only for such religious purposes). Though there are differences in the procedure and the various steps to be followed, the six steps common to all and the detailed procedure has to be learnt from the family priest or the elders in the family.
These six steps are: 1) Āchamanam- is the ceremonial sipping of water from the right hand cupped in the shape of the ear of a cow (gokarṇam) to the appropriate mantras. This āchamanam is a general purification act that precedes every religious undertaking. 2) Prāṇāyāmam- is the control of the prāṇic energy through the regulation of the breathing process as detailed in the works of yoga. Prāṇayāmam helps in the control of the mind also. 3) Mārjanam- is literally means cleansing or purifying. It consists of sprinkling water on specified parts of the body with a mantra. This process will make the body ceremonially pure and fit the ritualistic act. 4) Arghyapradāna-is the offering of water taken in the two hands cupped together, by repeating the Gāyatrī mantra and addressing the Sun-god. This is just to show our gratitude to the Sun-god who is our primary life-support. 5) Gāyatrī japa-is for the goddess Gāyatrī within the orb of the sun. 6) Sūryopasṭhāna- is repeating the prayer addressed to the deity Gāyatrī in the standing posture, facing the sun. This is the last rite of bidding farewell to the goddess after having invoked her and satiated her through japa.
Hence, our land which worships the Sun-god who is our primary life-support, three times a day is known to be 'Trikālasandhyāvandānuṣthiṫa Bhūmi'.