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 them. 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 Museums. 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 all! 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 GURBANI! Gurcharan Singh ,Kulim Kamuning Hills, Chigwell.