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Turban or Scarf for Women?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by carolineislands, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. carolineislands

    carolineislands
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    I have noticed that most Sikh women wear scarves except the Sikh women in the United States who wear a turban AND a scarf. Am I wrong? Why the difference? Is one more traditional than the other? Is there philosophical differences at play or is the turban vs chunni (is that right?) just a matter of preference or personal conviction?

    Thank you all!
     
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  3. spnadmin

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    Caroline ji,

    This question had me bewildered once upon a time too. Consider the many different groups of Sikhs in the US and Canada. They define Bana for themselves as a matter of Sikh identity and religious practice. Much has cultural and historical origins.

    Those women who are members of "The Western Dharma" including 3HO Sikhs or followers of Yogi Bhajan often. not always, wear turbans, and for dress up occasions a turban and a scarf. This is an expression of a culture --shared beliefs-- that has grown over the years from the late 1960's. Women of Asian origin or ancestry, including those of Punjabi background, typically do not wear a turban on a regular basis. There are always exceptions -- they too may wear a turban if the culture of their family, friends, gurdwara, or the spiritual practice of their sangat, encourages women to wear turbans. I think maybe women of the Nirmaali sect wear turbans. (Actually I think I am wrong.) There isn't one hard and fast rule. And even women who are 3HO Sikhs do not always wear turbans. They wear scarves and other kinds of head-coverings too. Lots of options.
     
  4. carolineislands

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    Thank you so much. I had wondered about that. I asked my Sikh friend from India about turbans for women and she said, "No women don't wear turbans, they wear scarves." But there are all these women with turbans on...

    Then again, some Sikhs from India cut their hair and don't wear any distinctive clothing, as my friend and her husband. When I was first getting to know her she called and asked if I would co-facilitate a class at the local university and I showed up in a Salwar Kameez (which I have worn for quite some time even before I had ever heard of Sikhism)... She had a suit on and very short hair.

    We sort of looked at each other and she said, "I think it's wonderful that you're wearing my uniform and I am wearing yours."

    Oh, what do you call the person who is not yet a khalsa... a Sikh who is still learning but hasn't taken that step? I thought I heard a phrase...

    can't remember...
     
  5. spnadmin

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  6. Sinister

    Sinister
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    to my understanding they are known by a multitude of names:

    Sahejdari Sikhs is the legitimate name bestowed by the Guru upon them.



    But some far right members of the khalsa panth often refer to them as:

    Weak 'willed' sikhs

    materialistic sikhs

    'lost' sikhs

    'media hypnotized sikhs' is another phrase ive heard.::cool:2:

    oh well, I guess life comes slapped with a variety of labels, makes it richer, neh?
    cheers
     
  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    I think Caroline Islands is just trying to get some vocabulary down for starters. As in a working vocabulary. Mabye not.

    Sinister ji's retort kind of threw me off balance for a few minutes because I thought the conversation was just about fact gathering. But he does add another dimension to my answer. What I forgot to say was this.

    In your statement, Oh, what do you call the person who is not yet a khalsa... a Sikh who is still learning but hasn't taken that step? I thought I heard a phrase...

    Yes a Khalsa is one who has taken amrit, has been baptized, has taken a big step. But hopefully the Khalsa are also still learning. It sounded as if you were saying first you are learning, and then when that phase ends, you become Khalsa, and stop learning. The decision to stop learning is an interfaith and crosscultural phenomenon.
     
  8. carolineislands

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    Honestly, I already know I'm going to be a Sikh. Its not a matter of making up my mind. Its a matter of taking an appropriate length of time to learn the basics and get a good foundation before I become a baptized Sikh and start displaying the outward signs. I would jump in right now if it weren't for the fact that people are going to want to know what Sikhism is and I wouldn't be able to answer their questions very well right now.

    I don't want to seem like some flaky American trying on a new religion like a pair of cute shoes.

    I want to be respectful and committed and at least somewhat knowledgeable. But there is no lack of commitment or desire -- I am trying to do things decently. That's all.

    I read the Siri Guru Granth in English from the web and I am overwhelmed with the beauty of it every time. I listen to Kirtan and read history when I can. I even started Yoga! The closest Gurudwara is over an hour away from me so I haven't been yet but plan on doing that soon. Other than this forum, the internet sites I find and some books, that's all I have in the way of learning and support.

    But trust me, as soon as I have a decent knowledge of the history, can remember the names of the Gurus and things they said, have a good understanding of the basics of Sikhism... I WILL BE A Sikh.

    I also ordered a kara. I am going to wear it as soon as I get it because even though I may not be baptized, I AM committed. And I think having it on will help remind me throughout the day that my life is on a different track now and everything I do matters. I think it will help me remember to be kind to people and to keep a good attitude about my work and the people whose lives I touch.
     
  9. Huck_Finn

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    dear caroline

    belief starts with inner and grows outwards.

    pleasedo take time to seperate message andd essence from practice

    there are a lot of cultural aspects which are currently attached as practices to sikhi

    time and perseverence in pursuing the truth from the Guru will help you filter it out

    God Bless!
     
  10. Sherab

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    Actuaklly Kahand Keertani jatha requires ALL sikhs to wear a head covering, my friend Taj Kaur wears patka, she buns he her at the back of her head like a irl does, and ties patka around that.

    AKJ link: www.akj.org

    EDIT:

    More info on my views, here: Sikh Articles - Dastaar for Women
     
  11. spnadmin

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    Caroline ji

    Amarsanghera is giving you excellent advice.
     
  12. carolineislands

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    Thank you. I do want to take time to get some understanding, as you say. I don't expect to stop learning at any point because it is already become clear to me that the "essence" of Sikhism is deeper than the oceans and a person could study it every waking moment of their lives and STILL just have scratched the surface -- or so it seems to me. I only wish I would have found Sikhism earlier in my life, but since I didn't, I will spend the rest of my life learning as much as I can.

    And I do also believe that the Guru will help me filter it out... one thing I've always known about God is that He loves a heart that seeks after him and if you really want his guidance he will give it. Or so it has been for me in my life.

    My Sikh friend says that her belief in reincarnation makes her feel that her soul chose her parents and her family because they could help her learn what she needed to learn for this lifetime and because of that she doesn't really understand changing cultures and religions. For me, I see a sort of opposite picture, in that if we are to learn and evolve in our lifetimes, we have to seek the Truth and get on the path that leads to it. If we are born on a path that doesn't, we need to find one that does. And making the choice to be a Sikh just may have been the challenge and purpose of this lifetime for me.

    I agree that all cultures effect their religions and one has to learn to sort out the cultural aspects, especially the ones that have become a sort of deviation, and try to get to the core message. Being from the West, learning Sikhism will probably be pretty complicated and there will be a lot of things that might be hard for me to integrate into my thinking and lifestyle. But I figure I'll just do my best, read the scriptures and ask God to guide me. And try to be a good person and help others.

    Thanks!
     
  13. Astroboy

    Astroboy Malaysia
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  14. soon2bkaur

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    This is a great question, as I am also new to Sikh, I almost feel as if I want to jump right in, wear the 5 k's, and feel proud of being a Sikh. But, because of my lack of knowledge, I hold back because the last thing I want to do is to be phrased "Sikh wannabe". Far as I have seen, living in America, the Gurdwara I have been to only has 3 white people, me being one of them. The other two were brought there because of Kundalini and take the dress of the 3HO people you see. For me, I wear a Salwar Kameez, but since I lost so much weight, they don't fit well.... but because my hair was cut soooo short before me practicing Sikh, I am embarrassed to wear the chunni because people can see my extreme short hair (why can't hair grow faster, lol). I think I will buy a turban and wear a Chunni over it for services... I know Sikhs don't judge, it is all in my head, but I think I would feel less uncomfortable if I wore a turban so that I can concentrate more on the Gurbani!

    But, I have read that women were given the gift of the turban as well because in Sikhi, they are equal to men. I personally wouldn't mind wearing it at all times, especially if someone asks why, I can tell them about the Sikh faith, which I believe is a plus!!!
    kaurhug
     
  15. spnadmin

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    I think imho you have solved this problem brilliantly. Don't forget to look at videos that show how to tie a woman's turban Sikh style. It gives you more flexibility too.
     
  16. spnadmin

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  17. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Adorning weapons, chakars [quoits] and knifes they wore many [in their dumallas – high conical turbans]. Forty kilos of weapons and armour they adorned. Dressed alike were young and old women. They were strong, powerful and of great charity. Some wore dress of women. Five dressed like men [i.e. in full warrior dress]. Getting Singh and Singhnias ready thus. Sending one Sirdar with them, the Singhnia set off towards the royal palace. The powerful Singhs stood outside. All the royal women came out to see them. They [Singhs] had great moustache and beards. Their eyes were full of rage and eyebrows greater. Wearing many weapons. Seeing their great form and beauty, they were as if incarnations of the warrior spirit. The Begams were astonished. Begams sent them [Singhs] gifts. Saluting the Singhs, they sent them away. Then they looked at the Singhnia. They took them into their palace. They [Singhnia] said, “Sat Siri Akal”. They replied “Salaam” and sat them down. Seeing their form and strong bodies. Dressed in armour and weapons. Listening to their conversation of plundering and war. And how to kill a hunt. And how to aim with bows and muskets. Hearing them, they were astonished. Under their ‘Salwars’ [trouser like garments], were ‘Kashehras’ [breeches]. Seeing their great clothes. Listening to their manly words. The Begams were astounded. The four Singhnia had a special female dress. They wore silver ornaments twenty pounds in weight. Seeing this they were awe struck. Their Salwars were twenty yard long. They wore heavy lower garments. Their top knots stood span and half high. Their Shmeezes were of special design. Their physiques were large and heavy. Seeing them the Begams were astounded because they stood unarmed and weak of body. Fearing the Singhnia they cowered to half their size. Then began discussion on religion. Singhnia dismissed all other religions. The traditions of Muslims [Turks] they called false. The way of Mohammed they said was full of faults. The Singhnia described all the atrocities of the Turks. Hearing them the Begams shuddered. Shocked they covered their mouths with their hands. Hearing of the chastity, sincerity and morals of the Singhs. The Begams spoke nodding their heads. “Singhnia you are of great fate. You move about with you husbands. We are pathetic and suffer greatly. Our life is like life imprisonment. One king has sixty wives. By marrying we are as if trapped in a trap”.’


    (‘Naveen Panth Prakash’, Giani Gian Singh Nirmala, 1877, Bhasha Vibhag Publication, Pa.1151-1153)
     
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  18. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Ishna ji

    May I ask you what problem your husband has with your turban? If you wear it at work or at Gurdwara then why he don't like it.Obviously he is not with you at that places so why he object it.A turban is not material that you have to wear 24x7 ,If he don't like it then don't wear it when you are with him .
     
  19. Ishna

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    Soon2bKaur Ji

    Head covering is an exciting element of religion, especially in the West which is why you see a) most white converts to Islam start hijab straight away and b) why lots of Muslim sites have sticky threads for new muslimahs to talk about hijab. It's an exciting way to show the world how enamoured you are with your new faith!

    I don't think you need to feel too self conscious about your extremely short hair. A lot of Sikhs cut their hair now anyway (not that it's ok!!), so they would be hypocrites to judge you. The main thing is that you feel comfortable in Darbar Sahib (the main hall with Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in it - don't mean to patronize, I'm just not sure which words you already know!), and perhaps you feel more self-conscious with incredibly short hair before your GURUJI than other people?

    At any rate, my point of view is this:

    1. Dastaar/turban can be worn at any stage on your Sikh journey, but I think it would be lovely to keep it for if you become amritdhari (baptised), and it will have special meaning, and you will feel more confident when people go "what's that thing on your head?" or otherwise challenge you possibly more aggressively because of it.
    2. Perhaps you could buy a wide head-band like the one pictured and wear your chunni over that. It will a) cover your short hair and b) help keep your chunni ON your head by giving the chunni something to hold on to.

    I hope this helps!

    KDS Ji:
    (KDS has picked up a line from my deleted post, everyone else can ignore this part of the conversation)

    As you are probably aware my husband and I are both white, and I wasn't as devout a Sikh (in fact I wasn't a Sikh, I was only reading about it) when we got together. So he sees turbans as a strange and unusual piece of clothing. He doesn't think they look very feminine, and he loves my long hair. I've tried the "won't it be cool for you knowing you're practically the only one who gets to see my long hair?" approach but he says it's cooler for him for OTHERS to see my hair.

    I'm divided on the turban-wearing duration... I don't see the point of wearing a turban at all unless it's for the majority of the time. This might be better in another thread. Turban is an article of uniform, I think if you've decided to wear it you should always wear it in public at least. Then whose to say you won't get called unexpectedly out of the house late at night or have visitors after dinner?

    Summed up, he doesn't want to be seen in public with me wearing my beautiful SALWAR KAMEEZ let alone a turban. He doesn't particularly like seeing me with my chunni on my head either.

    At any rate, I'm trying subtle things... putting up the painting of the beautiful singhni wearing a turban (so he sees it all the time and gets de-sensitised). He's open to other kinds of head-covering, especially if they look "hippy", so I'm going to experiment with tichels which I think he likes. It's still a question-mark for me at this point as to "if it's not a turban why bother at all" but I feel the need to cover my hair/head with SOMETHING so I might as well follow the instinct.

    Does anyone know where I can buy tye-died turban fabric? lol

    KDS Ji, if you want to continue this conversation it's probably best if you PM me please. :)
     

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    #18 Ishna, Jun 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2011
  20. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Please may i butt in..with a personal tale of mine....

    A friend of mine who is a German Jewish origin, on a trip to Amrtisar met a DESI GYANI..fully Amrtidharee and all that....fell in love, married him and brought him to Munich. Soon after...while the WIFE began to dive deeper and deeper into Gurbani...studying Gurmukhi..soaking up Teekas and aarths of Gurbani, reading up difficult books like Suraj Parkash, Bhai Gurdass Varaan kabits etc...even attempting to study rudimentary Persian to be able to read Bhai Nand Laal...and begin wearing the DUMALLA and all that...the DESI GYANI AMRITDHAREE began to get "annoyed" on a daily basis...he began to tell his wife...ALL MY DESI FRIENDS make FUN of me..becasue of YOU...they tell me..Wah ji Wah Gyani ji...Goree nu vee GYANI bannah liyah..kamaal kartee ( Wah gyani..you managed to manke your white woman a Gyani as well..thats wonderful..) and then he gave her an ULTIMATUM" STOP WEARING the Dumallah etc in GURDWARA becasue I feel embarassed !! Finally he DIVORCED his wife and abandoned his 3 year old daughter as well !! TODAY..that DESI GYANI is a MONA..married to a Waitress who works in a Bar in Munich...while my friend (his first wife) is an ACCOMPLISHED KATHAWACHAK par excellence - she can do better katha of Suraj parkash/Bhai Nand laal Kabits than any Desi Gyani i have seen so far !! She has memorised nearly half of SGGS..she has a very good voice and does kirtan very well..plays the Tanpura in Raag !! Her daughter..now 12 wears a beautiful dumallah, plays Gatka, knows Gurbani/Gurmukhi well...and he mum remarried a second time (Again to a DESI GYANI...but thankfully this one appreciates her dastaar in Gurdwara as well a s outside !! and is PROUD of her !!) Coming from a Jewish background and a Computer Graduate...she is an asset to Sikhism becasue of her Bible knowledge..etc etc - I learnt so much from her 3 week stay at my home recently...she definitley BEAT ME to a few things in Gurbani understanding - me with Punjabi Jatt background..and she from jewish..had different takes on so many Gurbani tuks !!..and she made me realise just how truly UNIVERSAL Gurbani is !!.

    My conclusion:.

    1. The First desi Gyani IS a Cad.. IS a FRAUD..what we call a BHEKHI SINGH...and probably just wanted a VISA to EXIT INDIA... via his german wife.

    2. He probabaly felt THREATENED by his newly weded wifes GROWING SIKHI....maybe he thought his wife would be the Bar-Girl type of German (the type he eventually ended up with)....and was shocked by her true Sikhi compared to his own BHEKH !!

    3. There are many many such desis ...the moment they arrive at DELHI AIRPORT...they leave their turbans in the dustbins at the airport..this one kept his till he was "safe" in Germany..and had PR..but inside imho he felt like being a MONA all this while...wearing the BHEKH in PUNJAB he could at least make a living..faking reading paaths at akhand paaths or faking "kirtan" at samgams...he is not a sikh a t heart..
     

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