Welcome to SPN

Register and Join the most happening forum of Sikh community & intellectuals from around the world.

Sign Up Now!

The Vanishing Turban, Erodes the Magnificent Sikh Identity

Discussion in 'Sikh Youth' started by Chaan Pardesi, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Chaan Pardesi

    Chaan Pardesi
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Oct 5, 2008
    Likes Received:
    The Vanishing Turban Erodes the Magnificent SIKH Identity


    As many Sikhs shed the most important article of their faith,the hair
    grown to the natural length , the size and length of the Sikh turban
    shrinks in size for those who religiously continue to maintain their
    long uncut hair shrinks in size.

    Once a upon a time,not too long ago, only a mere 100 years back , the
    splendorous Sikh turban seen on the leading Sikh royalty and their families and the Sikhs in the services , stood out grandly,mesmerising anyone,everyone and holding them in awe, by it grandeur.The turban measured about 8-9 yards.

    In those yester years after a young Sikh child underwent the
    dastaar bandi [turban tying/adoption/acceptance ceremony],around the
    age of 13/14, the children were seriously taught and learnt how to put
    on the turban with skill.As the child grew, he mastered the skill
    watching his father and other male relatives in the family, until his
    turban grew along with him into the any unique majestic style the
    family had traditionally been used to.

    In the yester year period ,a 5 yard turban of 'mal mal'[muslin] cloth
    was starched and wound round the head skillfully,and graciously
    elegantly within minutes resulting into a uniquely sophisticated and
    sumptuous crown that befitted only the Kings and Nawabs of the great
    Indian-Sikh royalty. Many would see no need for a mirror either, when
    putting on the turban.

    Very ironically, these days many of the Sikh youth see this skill as a
    time consuming chore that they feel tired with repeating daily,and
    feel the turban has gone by "it' s sell by date" and is no longer a
    necessary part of their religious heritage! Many also have an identity
    crisis as they try to fit in with the larger community around them ,
    who more than often are not Sikhs and lack the understanding and
    significience of the turban in matters spiritual of the Sikh faith.The
    size of the turban shrank!

    The Guru Gobind Singh made the Sikh to stand out, but many with
    inferiority complex prefer to "blend in" and become a mediocre. A Sikh
    is supposed to be a lighthouse not a 'wave' among millions of'
    waves'struggling to blend in!

    Over the last six to seven years, turban shops [and e-turban apps]
    have sprout up in most parts of the Punjab and other centres of
    significant Sikh population , where clients[Sikhs] wishing to learn the
    turban skill and be able to skillfully put on a turban are charged fees between R 30- R500!

    This is a skill that literally existed commonly in every Sikh family or
    household until about 40 years ago.Along with the many ill changes that
    have taken place, it is said the use of bright colours for the turbans
    only became very common, after the screening of a film with religious
    message, about 50 years ago, Nanak Naam Jahaz Hai,where an actor Shuka Singh [Inderjit Singh Johal in real life] sported very many colourful turbans.This lit the desire among the Sikh youth to copy and adopt larger and more colourful turbans as a fashion statement, while still following the
    tenets of their faith!

    Since then the practice of wearing a 8-9 metre turban revitalised
    into being,commonly.Often two similar turbans were also sewn together
    creating a larger magnificant turban.They also matched the turbans to
    the type of clothing they wore,ensuring they kept up to date with the changing fashion of clothing!

    Fast track fifty into today, however, this is now changing, the youth
    in Punjab and elsewhere are using shorter length of cloth for the
    turban.It is a fact many are discarded the turban all together,irrespective of the fact it is one of the articles
    of their faith.Patitpoona [shedding/contravention of religious
    principles/articles ] has increased among the young Sikh.Some have
    adopted a dual identity-with their hair cut, but wearing of a turban
    for functions or a visit to the Gurduara [Sikh house of worship].Others
    have taken to wearing a smaller sized turban, citing 'convenience' for
    an excuse.Others' turbans look almost like a hat, which Sikhs are
    specifically forbidden to wear over their long hair, tied in a knot
    over the head!

    Even those who have not shed their hair, are often seen
    wearing a basebal cap or a simple patka [a bandana type] small
    cloth/sometimes a large handkerchief over their heads to cover the long haired knot .The cloth cannot be in any way called a turban.It is acceptable to wear this during sporting activity or at home, but not when one is decently dressed out in public.With a beard, such small covers over the head,present a ridiculously commical look of a Sikh!They invite
    negative criticism, and then wonder why the world does not understand

    The current apathy towards their own national identity is a matter of
    grave concern for the older generations as well as the entire Sikh
    community, who see such practices as a decline and deviation from the
    well defined path of of the religious identity.

    Bollywood and general TV influences are being blamed for such negative
    effects upon the Sikh youth, as many are more than often ignorant and
    ill informed about the significance and importance of their Sikh history and identity.Many of the Sikh youth have not aquired the basic skills of turban tying , and others have lost the skill and knoweldge on how to wound a proper turban skillfully.

    Some youngsters have been seen attending the turban shops to stick on a small patka on their heads!It has also become a common scenario in the
    Gurduaras to see matured male Sikhs more than often with patkas upon their heads, presenting a sight as alien to the traditional male Sikh personality and larger than life character, and often provoking mirth and amusement from those around, both Sikhs and more so non Sikhs, who do recognise the majestic turban but not know what to make out such towel like covering.Some of these Sikhs may be fathers to children!They may not know even how to roughly wound a turban!One wonders,what example they are setting to the younger generations!

    It is not uncommon today to find , that many who claim to be Sikhs,have never ever grown uncut hair, and only worn the turban for their wedding day or one function in life!Thus the skill is totally zero in turban tying!
    Previously, young children commenced with tying their hair in a knot
    with a handkerchief to cover the joora[knot of hair]

    As they grew up they wore patkas.Sikh athletes and sportsmen were
    commonly seen to use patkas during sports activities.It almost
    impossible to see any Sikh with a patka playing sports these days.It is
    a vanishing sight sadly!It is a rarity that exists only in the Sikh

    With the current advent of 'patkas' , some ready made ,by young and
    often older matured males,it is very disconcerting and very worrying
    issue,that seeing this ,the younger generation will completely loose the art of wounding/tying the turban around the head.

    Some even come up with the most sickly excuses,that were never
    felt,seen or ever heard in the times of and by their brave forefathers.The
    excuses range from my head being heavy, to headaches to hard to tie a
    knot of hair, to I am feeling out of place and shy among the non
    Sikhs,to , finding it hard to dry after washing or bath!The line of
    excuses may surpass even the fabled tales of Ali Baba and forty
    thieves!Some to please their parents & families put on a turban but of
    a very short length!

    Again with passage of time, the length of the turban has shortenned,
    and small turbans that often do not match the size of the head face are seen around. The biggest culprits doing such are the Sikhs of
    Afghanistan and Delhi, with their ready made "delhi patka"!Sometimes
    the Afgahn sikh turbans look very much a haji skull cap!Thus 3/4 metre long turbans have become very common these days, if at

    Thus with such small turbans on the head, they do not present the
    majestic and graceful graandiose personality of the traditional Sikh
    image , nor be fit the title of a SARDAR-chief, that Sikhs are commonly and proudly associated with and refered to as all over India, Nepal, Myanmar, Iran and Afghanistan.!There is no "sardar" in such rduced turbans nor any Sardari[an aura aof splendour] in the persona!A SARDAR only reflects the real personality in a smart and appropriately sized turban,not a piece of cloth used as patka!

    Sikhs continue to face challenges around the world with regards to the
    turban, but sadly in our own midsts and "homeland"-the land of FIVE
    rivers, where reigns supreme the Gurbani of the GURUS, and where every
    inch of land has been graced by the footsteps of the Gurus [rishis,
    bhagats, pirs and munnis] and the Sikh martyrs,includng the Four
    Sahibzades[Princes] of the magnificient Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh
    and his Sikh warriors, in the Punjab, the turban is being disrespected,
    dishonoured and taken off like a cap, by the law enforcers of the
    "SIKH" nationalist party!The Akal Takhat sits by and watches in silence
    of the lambs, in its midst!

    Western influences, the rivers of alcohol galore ,and drugs has
    distanced the Sikh youth from the moral and ethical highground of the
    Gurus and the faith, thus their identity as well.

    The turban shops are now saying that due to the discarding of the
    articles of faith, the turbans are not selling as popularly as they
    used to at one time.Many are trying hard to run turban competitions
    to encourage the resurgence and revival of turban wearing,many are
    trying to produce films and documentaries,this can only be beneficial if the youth revert back to adopting their old values, skills and Guru given spirituality.

    The blame for loss of this skill is not entirely at the footsteps of
    the Sikh youth and families but also the supreme body of the Sikhs,
    the Akal Takhat, the Gurduaras & their parbandhaks[who more than often
    are not following even the basic sikh code of conduct or wearing
    turbans themselves, but unashamedly lay claim to the Gurduaras without
    a Sikh identity among themselves] the granthis who are often making up
    nonsensical stories about Sikhi as they waffle along..and the blind
    faith of the sangats that do not see difference between rituals and

    Gurcharan Singh ,Kulim
    Kamuning Hills, Chigwell.
    • Like Like x 3
    #1 Chaan Pardesi, Oct 9, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2013
  2. Loading...

    Similar Threads Forum Date
    SciTech Language Researchers Chart Vanishing Voices (video) Breaking News Feb 23, 2011
    The case of the vanishing groom Hard Talk Jul 7, 2010
    S Asia Hindu-Sikh Minorities in Pakistan: The Vanishing Communities Breaking News Mar 22, 2010
    Nature NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India's Vanishing Water Breaking News Sep 11, 2009
    Opinion Who The Hell Are Sikhs? And Why Do They Wear The Turban? Sikh Sikhi Sikhism Sep 18, 2016

  3. FreeWill

    Expand Collapse

    Jan 13, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Sat Sri Akal Ji. Agrees to all the above points. I.have something to ask and say.

    What I perceive from wearing the turban is creating our own entity as a Sikh.
    But on the context to Sikhism as a wider term, the word itself has a wider term and depth to it.

    The term "Sikh" has its origin meaning disciple,
    student. Also, some
    historians suggests that the name "Sikh" is
    derived from the ancient term "Saka " . [29]
    A Sikh is a disciple/subject of the Guru .
    According to Article I of the " Rehat
    Maryada " (the Sikh code of conduct and
    conventions), a Sikh is defined as "any
    human being who faithfully believes in
    One Immortal Being. Sikhs
    believe in the equality of humankind, the
    concept of universal brotherhood of man
    and One Supreme God ( Ik Onkar).

    Sikhism is already defined to do everything with equality of mankind, why a dress code like a turban or beard is required. can't these tasks be done anonymously. Even practically when every human help for mankind can be done even otherwise, why identity is necessary. especially when people are lacking time in day to day activities, how is it practically relevant to spent so much time tying turban and working with beard.
    And can any turban tying Sikh ever deny the pain it carries sometimes in forehead and at the back of the head because of tying turban. In summers when people are relaxing in the open air, a turbaned Sikh is looking for ways to cool his head of sweat and pain.
    And I'm sure if any girl or boy needs some help from thieves or some practical decoits, a turbaned Sikh will think twice before jumping in to avoid getting his turban fell off his head in public.
    In respect to religion, there is no word to say. Bit practically I don't understand how it helps Sikhs or mankind as a whole. Even if.it is a dress code, doesn't mean it has to stay forever.
    we go to school, follow dress code, but we can't keep it on forever.
    Can a Sikh enjoy and jump into a pool of water. Majority of us envy short hair people of any religion when it comes to sports especially water sports activities. I Strongly beleive in preachings of Sikhi, however, why to follow them requires special dress code.
  4. aristotle

    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor

    May 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Use the swimming cap....it keeps the head hair dry...:D
  5. FreeWill

    Expand Collapse

    Jan 13, 2013
    Likes Received:

    Again comes the "CAP". If CAP of any kind is allowed, be it to cover your head to protect from sun or water.. what difference does it make...

    So if you agree to the cap, where is the issue with the other caps or hats...
  6. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
    Expand Collapse
    Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Jul 4, 2004
    Likes Received:

    AAKLREEAAN SAHIB seveah...jios..we have brains..to be used...

    Baseball cap..Cowboy hat..Helmet etc is...COMMON and in PUBLIC...
    Swimming "cap" is technically not a cap..and its NOT usual PUBLIC wear...mostly in the swimming pool..in the bath.PERIOD. One doesn't wear a swimming cap to work..

    we dont split hairs..IF there is a covering to keep the HAIR DRY..CLEAN..and its TEMPORARY..its OK.....Surgeons wear MASKS..but only in the OP Theatre..Docs cary Stethoscopes.BUT only when in the Examination room..so a swimming cap..is ONLY near WATER...

    BIG HUGE DIFFERENCE. Many singhs put a large Plastic sheet over their dastaars in heavy rain..thats also OK...

    AAkleean SAHB seveayh is in SGGS..a good advise to hair splitters....NOT all "split ends" are caused by same causes..therefore not all split ends are the same...go case by case...
    • Like Like x 2
  7. kds1980

    kds1980 India
    Expand Collapse

    Apr 4, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Apart from few Rehat's nowhere it is written that a Sikh should not wear cap
    So why we need explanation that swimming cap is not a cap but a baseball cap is?
  8. BaljinderS

    Expand Collapse

    Dec 29, 2011
    Likes Received:
    For those who have read the glorious Sikh history would not make such remarks as why do Sikhs wear a turban. Sikhs have a distinct identity which was obtained through many hardships and sacrifices. Yes, I recognise that a requires a very strong individual to carry off the turban. The turban is what makes Sikh a Sikh... for those who are weak in their heart will make millions of excuses... there will always be people like that.

    Why are Sikhs becoming so weak today? There was days when Sikhs respected each others shadow.. and stood side by side no matter what! There is no need to justify to others why you wear a turban.

    Those who truly love Sikh (not the one's who pretend to be Sikhs), will always wear a turban. Turban is not just a piece of cloth to cover your head. It builds and defines your character.

    If it was not that important why have Sikhs been wearing it for centuries and proudly jumping to the front line while there colleagues are behind them with their helmets? It would be okay for non-Sikhs to ask questions like this but what a shame that so called Sikhs are making a mockery of themselves.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Kanwaljit Singh

    Kanwaljit Singh India
    Expand Collapse
    Apache Spark, Scala developer
    Writer SPNer

    Jan 29, 2011
    Likes Received:
    But remember all of us here will vanish much before the turban does!
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
    Expand Collapse


    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Jan 31, 2011
    Likes Received:
    thats not strictly true my friend, some wear turbans but have little idea about core Sikhism.

    I am not lauding cut hair, I think those with cut hair should accept their shortcomings, however, turban wearing does not not automatically prove anything. The turban is very visual proof of who one is, but personally I feel one should attain certain standards and be in possession of certain knowledge before presenting oneself as an ambassador of Sikhism to the world.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. BaljinderS

    Expand Collapse

    Dec 29, 2011
    Likes Received:
    I appreciate what you are saying. Yes, there are allot of Sikhs who have good knowledge and understanding of Sikhism but do not apply it to themselves. I was strictly speaking. I need to learn to be so direct :singhsippingcoffee:
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page