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Ban tattoos if found hurting a religious community
The Sikh clergy has decided against accepting an apology from those tattooing the verses from the Gurbani (holy verses) or even Ek Onkar (first words in Guru Granth Sahib - the holy book of Sikhs). The Sikh clergy has recommended filing of an FIR against the violators under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for hurting the sentiments of the community.

In fact, tattooing has been in practice since 3300 BC of Neolithic times. In northern India, permanent tattoos are called ‘Godna.’ Tattoos have been used as cultural symbols among many tribal populations, as well as the caste-based Hindu population of India. Henna was popular in ancient India and ancient Egypt, and still remains popular today in the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and North Africa.

The tattoo marks still could be seen on the old people, who used to have on their forehead as star and crescent, birds, own or the name of their beloved one, Om in Hindi, etc. It was perhaps done to look different or out of love for the image of the tattoo.

Tattoo on a particular part of the body also carries special significance. A tattoo that is placed on the chest is often a symbol of love and affection, since the image is drawn close to the person's heart. Small tattoos can be inscribed on the middle finger, since this finger was previously believed to have a blood vessel that was directly connected to the heart.

In recent years, forearm tattoos were a growing trend with men, but several women have decided to get body art on this part of the body as well. The forearm is said to represent toughness or strength, and many people get a forearm tattoo to bring attention to their well-toned muscles. The tattoo also serves as motivation to keep this part of the body looking its best. A tattoo on the neck usually means that someone is risky or daring and tends to make bold choices. A back tattoo could give the impression that a person is mysterious or somewhat shy.

There are religions prohibitions and permissions having tattoo on body apart from different views of keeping the tattoo on body. In Jews, having a tattoo does not prohibit participation, and one may be buried in a Jewish cemetery and participate fully in all rituals.

In Muslims, the act of tattooing is seen as a form of mutilation. Besides, ablutions that are carried out before prayers remain incomplete as water fails to reach the skin of the tattooed part. Though there are sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which say a clear NO to tattoos, but many Muslims get their tattoos done.

In Christians, there is no prohibition against tattooing within the Catholic Church, provided that the tattoo is not an image directly opposed to Catholic teaching or religious sentiment, and that an inordinate amount of money is not spent on the process. At the Catholic council of Calcuth in Northumberland in 786, a Christian bearing a tattoo "for the sake of God" (i.e. a religious tattoo in the form of a cross, a monogram of Christ, or a saint's image) was commended as praiseworthy.

Film actors have been seen tattooing Sikh religious symbols on their body to grab media attention which ‘hurts’ religious feelings of the community and that is why they want FIR registered against such people.

The Sikh clergy took this decision during a meeting at the Akal Takht (highest temporal seat of the Sikhs) following complaints of tattooing of verses from the Gurbani and the Siri Sahib (sacred sword) on the forearm of Hindi and Punjabi film actor Neeru Bajwa. Earlier, Bollywood actor Mandira Bedi also drew the ire of Sikhs for tattooing Ek Onkar on her back in 2007 and on her nape in 2010.

However, the clergy has also directed the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to approach the government for making amendments in Section 295 (deliberately hurting the religious feelings of any community by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation) of IPC to prevent taking of the Guru Granth Sahib to tombs or mausoleums. The high priests have also sought suggestions from Sikh intellectuals to maintain the honour of the Guru Granth Sahib.

On one hand, a comment posted by H. Singh from Delhi on an article regarding the issue, says: “It is very unfortunate that somebody is using the Gurbani verses for the cheap publicity. Gurbani is above everybody directly come from Aakalpurkh (God). Nobody has the right to put it on their bodies. People must have seen that how the Gurbani Granth sahib is kept in gurudwaras in a holy manner and nobody has the right to put it on their dirty bodies.”

Another comment by BitterT5 from the US on the same issue reads: “Sikhs are degrading themselves by taking up small matters in different countries. If Sikhism is true faith Sikhs have nothing to worry.”

I personally feel that there is no harm in tattooing. It is a personal liking and feeling. Having tattoo on body is an expression of love towards the religion or the person tattooed. It will spread the message of religion as well. However, if keeping tattoo is hurting the sentiments of any religion, then it must be banned.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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