United Sikhs - Sikh Woman Sues Suburban Go-kart Park After Hair Cut From Motor | Sikh Philosophy Network
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United Sikhs Sikh Woman Sues Suburban Go-kart Park After Hair Cut From Motor


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004

Sikh woman sues suburban go-kart park after hair cut from motor



Last year Holly Hanjra was enjoying a day of go-kart racing in Melrose Park when something terrible happened: Her hair, which hadn’t been cut since birth, got sucked into the go-kart’s motor.

And then, according to Hanjra and her attorney, something worse happened — the staff at Melrose Park Indoor Grand Prix ignored Hanjra’s pleas to call 911 and instead rushed over and cut the woman’s hair.

Now, Hanjra is suing the go-kart facility — billed as the “fastest and largest indoor carting facility anywhere” — claiming the go-kart staff forever “tarnished” her hair, a key symbol of her Sikh faith.

“Melrose caused Holly severe emotional distress because in cutting her hair, they destroyed one of her symbols of to devotion to her religious faith,” according to the suit, filed this week in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages as well as legal fees.

As a “devout member of the Sikh faith, Holly follows the five articles of the Sikh faith,” the suit states. “One of the five articles of the Sikh faith is uncut hair, in that Holly has not cut her hair since birth.”

On Jan. 6, 2012, Hanjra went go-karting for the first time. She was with other Sikh friends, most of whom had never been go-karting before, according to the suit.

Although the facility made them watch a safety video, it made no mention of possible risks associated with having long hair, Hanjra argues.

A 14-minute safety video posted online does tell clients to use the provided “head sock” and “put it over your hair.”

Hanjra’s head was “violently pulled back” when her hair was sucked into the engine, the suit states, and she spent time in the hospital.

Hanjra could not be reached for comment. Her attorney did not return multiple calls seeking a comment.

Inderjeet Kaur

Oct 13, 2011
Seattle, Washington, USA
This is a very sad story. Forcibly cutting a Sikh's hair is something akin to forcible rape. The employees should have listened to Holly's frantic pleas and called 911. Unless leaving her as she was would put her in imminent danger, they had no business cutting her hair. They were wrong to do that and Holly should certainly be compensated.

However, I can see the employees side, too. No doubt they were panicked and immediately afraid of lawsuits and they wanted to get her away from the accident scene as soon as possible. Plus, I doubt if any of them had any idea of the importance of her hair.

I wonder if she used the head sock provided and, if not, why the staff didn't insist on it? That is no different, really, than the insistence that long-haired people wear swimming caps in swimming pools. If she did not, then at least some of the blame, contributory negligence, must lie with her.

Something else troubles me. It says, "She was with other Sikh friends..." Where were they? Did it all happen so fast that no one was able to restrain the staff members physically, if necessary? I know I would tackle the person and knock the scissors out of anyone's hands under those circumstances.

I remember the subject of go-carts coming up before, that time with turbans/patkas prohibited. I don't usually take this attitude, but I am beginning to wonder if maybe there are other better and still legitimate ways for young Sikhs to have fun rather than go-carting. This episode proves that the danger to the kesh is real, not some sort of unfair discrimination. Perhaps respect for the kesh would preclude such unnecessary danger. We as Sikhs are sometimes called upon to make sacrifices for our faith. It seems this might be one of those times. Perhaps looking on it as a willing sacrifice might make staying off these go-carts less difficult.

I am certain this will annoy some people. In fact, it annoys me. I hate being told not to do anything that catches my fancy and I have done my share of dangerous (and sometimes idiotic) things, from motorcycle racing to sword fighting to test whether a samurai sword or a kirpan sahib was a more deadly weapon (fortunately neither of us was seriously injured and the results were not valid because some fool interfered and made us stop before either of us was killed), but facts are facts. And it's not really so bad. I am 61 years old and have lived a full life replete with adventure and excitement - and I have never been on a go-cart.

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