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Making Turbans Cool Again for Sikh Youth

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Download The turban is the most visible symbol of the Sikh identity.

Sikh men cover their head with a long piece of cloth as their religion forbids them from cutting hair.

But the young generation is increasingly shunning the turban.

Incidence of discrimination or violence like the recent gunning down of Sikh in a temple in America is one reason young people don’t want to wear the turbans.

Jasvinder Sehgal reports on an event that’s trying to make Turban’s cool again.

In the dressing room, young Sikh boys are unfurling long strips of clothes to knot, pleat and finally tie them carefully around their heads.

All of them are trying to win the ‘Turban Tying Competition” with their neatly tied turbans.

Jarnit Singh is in sixth class and has come here with her mother.

“Turban is my identity and is a sign of self respect and pride. Our tenth spiritual leader and founder of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh Ji gifted us with turban. No Sikh is complete without turban and it is like a crown on his head. A Sikh can be identified in a crowd of because of his unique dress code.”

Manjeet Kaur is Jarnit’s mother.

“The Sikh youth is heading today in a wrong direction as some of them are shunning their turban on account of fashion. This type of competition inspires a young Sikh not to cast aside his turban for reasons of style. This is not a new competition, even in olden days the Sikh rulers use to organize them. Only God knows the time of death so a Sikh should never feel unsafe because of turban giving him a mistaken identity.”

In the auditorium the audience is eagerly waiting to see who will win.

While they wait... hymns in Punjabi are sung.

The judges are making their decision based on the neatness of the pleats and overall appearance of the turban.

Jarnit Singh takes to the stage with the number 17.

The competition is divided in to two age groups, 12 to 17 and18 to 23.

Jasveer Singh is the man behind the show.

“We are living today in a western culture where Sikh parents don’t teach their children enough about our rich heritage and history so they don’t adopt our customs. Sikh boys are expected to tie and wear the turban by the time they reach adolescence, but they are not doing so. We need to encourage them to do so. When the Sikhs in the Indian military can wear turban instead of helmets even in frontline combat situations then why the young ones can’t do this residing in the comforts of their homes.”

The assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards has triggered an anti-Sikh movement that left thousands dead.

Many Sikhs cut their hair to escape the violence.

Jagir Singh lost all of his four brothers as they were wearing turbans at the time of the anti-Sikh riots.

“In my colony at least 500 Sikhs were killed at that time. Both of my sisters lost their husbands while 40 of my close relatives were brutally murdered. I lost my brothers, maternal and paternal uncles, all sons of both of my sisters in this unforgettable incident. Nobody in my colony can say that they were not affected because of the turban during the riots.”

Twenty eight years after the assassination and things are starting to change.

Popular mainstream films now feature Sikh hero’s wearing turbans.

Some of the girls watching the competition today say they will only marry a man who wears a turban.

Jasmin Arora is one of them.

“Yes, I will marry a turban wearing Sikh only as it will give me also a unique identification. Turban is a gift from our masters and by all ways it should be respected. I am impressed that now a day’s even Indian heroes are dressed in turbans, I am proud to be a Sikh.”

Jagir Singh didn’t win but he is still a proud turban wearing Sikh.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 22 December 2012 16:32 )  

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