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Sikh Doctor Brothers Shave Off Their Beards to Safely Treat Covid-19 Patients

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Dr. Sanjeet Singh Saluja

MONTREAL, CANADA-Two Indo-Canadian Sikh doctors made the headlines after it came to light that they chose, albeit painfully, one pillar of their faith over another in order to continue safely treating Covid-19 patients.

Dr. Sanjeet Singh Saluja and his brother, also a doctor, made the tough decision of shaving off their beards so that they could properly wear N95 masks and treat patients suffering from the deadly coronavirus.

“One of the pillars of the Sikh faith is Seva, which is a service to mankind. I have always viewed my work at the MUHC as a chance for me to fulfill my faith’s expectations of service,” Saluja, an emergency doctor and physician at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said,. “However, another pillar of the faith, as many of you know, is Kesh, which is the practice of allowing one’s hair to grow naturally out of respect for the perfection of God’s creation. In this time of pandemic, I am faced with an existential crisis as the latter has severely limited my ability to serve.”

He explained that he is a very religious person and is extremely proud of his Sikh heritage. “It is a strong part of my identity,” he said.

He went on to explain that they were left with limited options in this case: “We could choose not to work but, in a time, when healthcare workers are falling sick and being quarantined, we would be adding stress to an already taxed system,” he said in the video.

He added that an alternative would be to wait until “viable” protection is available.

“But that goes against our oath as physicians and against the principles of Sewa,” he said, adding that they took the difficult decision after consultations with members of their faith, family, and friends.

“This is a decision made after many weeks of soul searching and many sleepless nights. This is a very difficult decision for us, and one we feel is necessary in this time of need,” Saluja said. “This is a decision that has left me with great sadness, and I truly mourn the loss of something that has been a major part of my identity.”

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