Yesterday morning I opened my e-mail to find this message from Darshan Singh of Frisco, Texas:
“My wife, I, and our two boys (6 and 3 yrs.) waited for over 90 minutes in line to have our older son Gurjot Singh’s passport renewed. When our turn came, the clerk said Gurjot has to take his turban and glasses off and take a picture for passport. We explained that we belong to Sikh religion, turban is part of our body like hair. We can take a picture with his glasses off, but cannot take turban off. They did not agree….We need your help to resolve this issue. Thanks.”
So what are your rights to have your United States Passport photograph taken with your Dastaar on?
In short, if you want to wear a religious head covering for your passport photo, you must provide a letter stating your head covering is for religious reasons: http://travel.state.gov/passport/guide/faq/faq_881.html.
I attached this template letter in my e-mail response to Darshan Singh and suggested that he go back to the post office, and request that they comply with United States State Department rules that allow religious head coverings in passport photos. I also told him to bring a copy of the State Department FAQs that discuss religious head coverings in passport photos.
The good news is that by 6:30 p.m. I received the following e-mail from Darshan Singh:
“Today we went to Plano passport office. They asked me to write a note about why Gurjot is wearing a turban – I provided the letter that Amardeep had e-mailed me. They gladly accepted the application along with that letter.”
Better yet, Darshan Singh plans on going back to the post offices in Frisco and explain to them the rules on religious headcoverings in passport photos. He also wants to talk to the Mayor of Frisco and file a complaint with the State Department.
This is a great example of a sangat member going the extra mile to address the root causes of the problem. Thank you Darshan Singh for your sewa and refusal to have your son’s rights violated!
You do have the right to wear your Dastaar in your United States passport photograph. HOWEVER, you must provide a letter stating that your head covering is religious in nature.