Sikh doctor brothers in Canada shave off their beards to serve amid COVID-19 crisis
Two Sikh doctor brothers in Canada have taken an “extremely difficult decision” to shave off their beards, an article of faith in Sikhism, to wear the medical-grade protective masks to treat patients suffering from the deadly virus in the country.
New Delhi: Amid ongoing global efforts to contain COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, two Sikh doctor brothers in Canada have taken an “extremely difficult decision” to shave off their beards, an article of faith in Sikhism, to wear the medical-grade protective masks to treat patients suffering from the deadly virus in the country, according to Montreal Gazette report.
Sanjeet Singh-Saluja, who is associate chief of the department of emergency medicine at the MUHC’s Montreal General and Royal Victoria hospitals, wanted to extend his involvement in the fight against COVID-19, but he was able to put on the mandatory N95 mask, thereby preventing him from getting closer to infected patients.
It was difficult for him to reconcile his medical oath with his religious values, but the Montreal physician gave preference to his duty and shaves off his beards.
The report said that Singh-Saluja is a deeply religious Sikh, and according to the tenets of his religion, one of the pillars of his faith, “kesh,” is the practice of “allowing one’s hair to grow naturally out of respect for the perfection of God’s creation.” However, another pillar of his faith is “seva,” which relates to service toward mankind.
The 44-year-old assistant professor of medicine at McGill University and the team physician of the Montreal Impact after consulting with religious advisers, family and friends and much soul-searching, decided to shave.
He told the newspaper, “It was an extremely difficult decision for us, but one that we felt was absolutely necessary in this time of need,” adding “It’s a decision that has left me with much sadness. This was something that had been so much part of my identity. I look at myself in the mirror very differently now. Every morning when I see myself, it’s a bit of a shock.”
The Montreal Impact was so moved by his stand that it produced two videos, one in which Singh-Saluja outlined his position and another in which team members and president Kevin Gilmore showcased their beardless-solidarity, said the report.
“Originally when my brother and I did this, my brother wanted to keep it very quiet and didn’t want any publicity,” Singh-Saluja says. “We still have a really hard time with it. But when I saw what the Impact had done with everyone having shaved, I wanted to get across a team message, so I read my explanation for the video,” he was quoted as saying.
Singh-Saluja reportedly said, “We’ve never seen anything like this in our lifetime. This disease spreads in such fast form. There are so many people out there in its path. When we got cases of tuberculosis or even SARS, I always had a backup with me, another doctor, who I could also ask to help me out."
His brother Rajeet, a neurosurgeon at the McGill University Health Centre’s (MUHC) Montreal General and Royal Victoria hospitals, was in a similar predicament and would no longer have been able to operate on COVID-19 patients, therefore took this path-breaking decision.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Canada has reached over 62,035 cases with more than 4,043 deaths, according to the health authorities.