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The Sikh Coalition Fateh
April 17, 2012
  • Sikh Restauranteur Obtains Exemption to Wear Kara

    (April 17, 2012) Duluth, GA - A Sikh small business owner who was cited repeatedly by the State of Georgia has obtained a “variance” to wear his kara to work at his restaurant.  Navraj Singh Banga, owner of Lajawaab Indian Cuisine, was told by a Georgia health inspector that wearing the kara violated state health regulations.  The repeated citations could have resulted in the state shutting down his business.  However, the Sikh Coalition successfully represented Mr. Banga in obtaining a variance from state health regulations.

    Georgia’s health regulations disallow restaurant food preparers from wearing jewelry, except for wedding rings.  Mr. Banga cooks food at his restaurant.  He contacted the Sikh Coalition after state health inspectors told him that no accommodations would be made for his religiously-mandated kara.  However, the Sikh Coalition’s research revealed that the state does allow exceptions to the health regulations on a case-by-case basis.  The organization represented Mr. Banga in his application for a variance, and argued that the state’s position violated state and federal constitutional guarantees of free exercise of religion.  

    On March 23, 2012, the state agreed and is allowing Mr. Banga to wear his kara in his restaurant without penalty.  The decision is listed on the state’s official “Rules Waiver Register” website, and sets precedent in the State of Georgia.  Thus, no other Sikh restaurant owner in the state should be penalized for wearing his or her kara to work.

    “I would like to thank everyone at the Sikh Coalition for fighting for me, supporting me, and for winning! This victory will raise awareness among the Sikh community and will encourage other Sikhs to fight to practice their faith,” said Mr. Banga.

    “No one should live in fear that the government will shut down their business because of their religious beliefs,” said Harsimran Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s Legal Director.  “We are pleased that the State of Georgia recognizes its constitutional obligations.” The Sikh Coalition thanks Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta, which provided a supporting letter, for their assistance in this matter.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition calls on all Sikhs to stand up for their rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.

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