Doctors Sanjeet Singh-Saluja and his brother Rajeet, working in Canada as a physician and a neurosurgeon respectively, were faced with a tough decision amid the COVID-19 pandemic that made them choose between the pillar of kesh and pillar of sewa in Sikh belief system. While kesh is the practice of allowing one’s facial hair and that on the head to grow naturally due to respect for the perfection of God’s creation, sewa means “selfless service” involving acts where one selflessly help others in a variety of ways without any expectation of reward or personal gain. Also Read - Coronavirus: Cases in Pakistan Rise Above 69,470; Death Toll Nears 1,500-mark
Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Singh-Saluja brothers were unable to wear N95 maks because of their beards and had two options before them – either to choose the pillar of kesh, keep the beards and omit serving the coronavirus patients or choose the pillar of sewa and shave off their beards to safely treat those suffering from the virus. In a dilemma, the doctor brothers consulted leaders of their faith, friends and family, took the tough call and opted for the latter since commitment to sewa was a big reason why they were working in their profession. Also Read - Bangladesh Reopens Offices, Transport Services Amid Spike in Coronavirus Cases
In a video posted by the McGill University Health Centre, Sanjeet said, “We could choose not to work, but in a time when healthcare workers are falling sick, we would be adding stress to an already taxed system. We could decide to simply refuse to see COVID-19 patients until viable protection is available to us, but that goes against our oath as physicians and against the principles of sewa.” Also Read - Amid Sharp GDP Data Revision, Debate Continues Over Its Fairness
Talking to the Montreal Gazette, Sanjeet shared, “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. But because COVID-19 has become so rampant in our community, it just wasn’t feasible anymore (not to wear an N95 mask). There are so many people coming in. I felt I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines. This was an exception to the rule, so we had to do what we had to do to help out.”
At a time when despite the pandemic, communal hatred continues to rage in different parts of the country, it is heartening to see humanity win over religion somewhere atleast!