WFY Today

Indian-origin staff in US Air Force gets religious rights to wear tilak while in uniform

An Indian-origin man, who works at the US Air Force, has been allowed to wear religious and cultural symbol while in uniform.

The Air Force granted a religious waiver to wear Tilak Chandlo while in uniform to Airman Darshan Shah, who is posted at the FE Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

The aerospace medical technician had sought a waiver since he joined the military two years ago. His religious accommodation waiver was approved last month.

A visibly happy Shah said, “We live in a country where we’re allowed to practise and have faith in what we want. That’s what makes this such a great country. We’re not persecuted for what we follow or believe. If it wasn’t for the first amendment, I wouldn’t be able to do this at all. I wouldn’t be able to be who I am while being a military member or even a citizen,”

Shah, a Gujarati, grew up in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in a traditional household who are followers of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottan Swaminarayan Sanstha or BAPS.

A red dot or Chandlo surrounded by an orange U-shaped tilak is worn on the forehead.

He had demanded right to wear the Tilak Chandlo in uniform in June 2020. He kept patience and pursued the case with the Superintendent of Personal Programs at the Air Force Global Strike Command on a monthly basis.

Shah plans to serve in the Air Force for at least two-decades. He would like to become a commissioned officer and serve as a doctor after earning his degree. Francis E Warren Air Force Base is a US Air Force base located three miles west of Ceyenne, Wyoming.

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