Premiere Indian actress Aishwarya Rai adorns a traditional nose-piercing for a role.
Premiere Indian actress Aishwarya Rai adorns a traditional nose-piercing for a role.

A Bountiful, Utah public school said a student’s nose-piercing violated a dress-code policy and suspended Suzannah Pabla, 12, who says it was her way to connect with her Indian roots. To other Indians, the incident was emblematic of how it can still be difficult for the American melting pot to absorb certain aspects of their cultural and religious traditions. School officials — who noted that nose piercing is an Indian cultural choice, not a religious requirement — compromised and said she could wear a clear, unobtrusive stud in her nose, and Suzannah returned to her seventh-grade class. “Most people presume I’m an immigrant, a foreigner,” said Amardeep Singh, a Sikh who was raised in the United States and works as an English professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. “As a child of immigrants, you often don’t feel fully American. The presumption is that you are somehow foreign to a core American identity. You always feel a little bit of an outsider, even in your own country.” About 2.6 million people of Indian ancestry live in the United States, including immigrants and natives, according to a 2007 U.S. Census estimate.

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