Religion and the college dress code triggered a controversy yet again as a group of students protested in front of the Canara Pre-University College in Mangalore on Monday against the prohibition of devotees of Aiyappa from entering the classrooms with beards and black shawls.

Members of Sri Ram Sene, who extended their support to students, demanded that 20 students — as estimated by them — who are to undergo pilgrimage to Sabrimala temple, be allowed to enter the college. The Sene took up the matter after Rakshith Kumar Rao, a first year PU student, was asked not to enter the class until he shaved and cut his hair, and was fined Rs. 100.

Calling the prohibition the “aping and promotion of Western culture”, local Sene leader Madhusudhan Urwa Store said there were no such rules to prevent devotee from wearing religious symbols in institutions.

“It is religious faith, and “vruthadharis” (persons who have taken the vow) are prohibited from cutting their hair, or shaving till the pilgrimage to the temple is complete. What the college is doing is to promote the Western culture,” he said.

However, Hundiprabha Kamath, principal of the college, said the rules regarding uniforms could not be changed.

Only the college uniform – that is black pants, blue-striped shirt – was allowed, and violating this rules entails a penalty, she told presspersons.

She expressed displeasure at Sri Ram Sene for “interfering” with the functioning of the college, and for terming the college “anti-Hindu” because of this policy.

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