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Young Sikh Men Get Haircuts

Amritsar Journal
Young Sikh Men Get Haircuts, Annoying Their Elders

Alexandra Jones for The International Herald Tribune

Published: March 29, 2007

Jugraj Singh, 18, cut his hair four years ago to be stylish. His parents did not object.

“It was my parents’ idea to float it down the river,” said Mr. Singh, now an 18-year-old business student. “They thought it would be a display of respect to the hair I had cut off. For me it wasn’t an emotional moment.”

Like many young Sikhs, he found the turban a bother. It got in the way when he took judo classes. Washing his long hair was time-consuming, as was the morning ritual of winding seven yards of cloth around his head. It was hot and uncomfortable.

“In the end,” he said, “it was a question of fashion. I felt smarter without it.”
Sikh spiritual leaders express dismay at the rapidity with which a new generation of young men are trimming their hair and abandoning the turban, the most conspicuous emblem of the Sikh faith. While there are no hard data, Jaswinder Singh, a lawyer and leader of a “turban pride” movement, estimates that half of India’s Sikh men now forgo the turban, compared with just 10 percent a couple of decades ago.

“The problem is very severe,” he said from the basement headquarters of his organization, Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj, or Army of God, here in Amritsar, in Punjab, the northern state where most of India’s 18 million Sikhs are based. “We are going to have to battle hard to turn back the tide. Otherwise, another 20 years will pass and India won’t have any more Sikhs in turbans.”

Since 1699, about two centuries after the founding of the religion, Sikh leaders have prohibited their members from cutting their hair, saying long hair is a symbol of Sikh pride. The turban was conceived to manage the long hair and intended to make Sikhs easily identifiable in a crowd.

But these days not every young Sikh wants to stand out so boldly.
The dwindling numbers of turban wearers reflects less a loss of spirituality than encroaching Westernization and the accelerating pace of Indian life, Jaswinder Singh said.

He puts the start of rapid decline at the mid-1990s, as India began liberalizing its economy, more people began traveling abroad and satellite television arrived in the villages of Punjab. Working mothers are too rushed to help their sons master the skill of wrapping a turban, he said, and increasingly they just shrug and let them cut their hair.

“Everyone is working harder to buy themselves bigger cars,” he said. “They don’t have time to teach their children about the Sikh heroes. Boys take film stars as their idols instead.”

Some abandoned the turban in self-defense after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguard in 1984, leading to the massacre of thousands of Sikhs across India. But globalization probably has had a greater impact.

“There is this terrible, misplaced urge to merge with the rest of the world,” said Patwant Singh, a historian and the author of “The Sikhs” (John Murray, 1999).

In addition, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Sikhs traveling abroad have complained of being mistaken for turban-wearing Taliban and harassed by airport security guards.

Outside the Army of God offices, there is a turban clinic offering free classes for boys — one of a series of Sikh revival programs. Standing before full-length mirrors, an instructor shows teenage boys in baggy jeans and sports shoes how to twist the cloth into neatly layered folds on one side and smooth the pleats into sharp lines with a hooked silver pin, which is then concealed beneath the hair at the back.

A “Smart Turban 1.0” CD-ROM offers step-by-step instructions to create fashionable looks and guides new turban wearers on how to choose the most flattering style according to face shape.

To promote the turban as a fashion item, Sikh leaders have also started holding Mr. Singh International pageants. Contestants are judged by looks, moral character, personality, knowledge of Sikh history and principles, and turban tying skills. The sixth World Turban Day will be celebrated on April 13 with a march through Amritsar by thousands of turban-wearing Sikhs.

India has no shortage of powerful Sikh role models, like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lt. Gen. Joginder Jaswant Singh, the army chief of staff. But they are hardly style icons, and their prominence has done nothing to stem the younger generation’s disaffection with the turban.

For that, turban promoters turn to the Punjabi pop star Pammi Bai. Grinning, his canary-yellow turban at a jaunty angle, he sings of the glory of wearing a turban in a single released as part of the campaign.

“I try my level best to gear up the youngsters,” Mr. Bai said in an interview, absent-mindedly pulling a pin from his turban to dig out the battery from his cellphone. “They’ve adopted bad European habits: fast food, pubs and clubs. They want to show they are modern. They are forgetting their own culture.” The album containing the turban song has sold 100,000 copies so far.
Are those efforts working?

Not according to Namrata Saluja, manager of the Color Lounge hairdressers in central Amritsar, which every week turns away young Sikh men who want their long hair cut off. “Kids come in groups,” she said. “There’s a lot of peer pressure. But we won’t unturban them here. We don’t want to be responsible for that upheaval in their families.”

Instead, the barbers advise the boys to cut their own hair at home and come back for styling.

“It’s usually college-going students who are more worried about looking good than about their spiritual identity,” Ms. Saluja said. “It’s a thrilling moment for them. You can see a flush on their faces. Taking eight or nine meters of cloth off your head releases a certain amount of pressure.”

But while it is good for business, as a religious Sikh she feels ambivalent about the trend. “At the end of the day, it is a bit hurtful,” she said. “It means one more identifiable Sikh is missing.”




Niku 38

yes, its a sad fact that more and more sikhs are cutting their hair for a variety of reasons. looking cool, "being" one of the crowd,turban getting in the way,these are infact all very lame excuses.

Ask those sikhs who fought for our very existance during the time of Guru Gobind Singh.What about the sikhs who fought in the both world wars or those who took on various prejudices across the world when settling down in in new parts of the world.
They never gave up the faith, identity or culture of their turbans.There was a time when there was a bounty on every sikhs head. All these times i have mentioned were testing times for any man, never mind a Sikh with a turban.

For all those men, boy who cut their hair, remember this, that somewhere in the time line of the sikh history, somewhere, some sikh lay down his/her life so that you, in the present day could wear a turban with pride.

Its a slap on the face for those martyrs and a sign of cowardness of those sikhs of today who cut their hair.

Singh means "lion" SO BE ONE!


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Youngsters who cut their hair to be fashionable end up doing many other undesireable things too. All this reflects back on their parents. Drugs, smoking, drinking, prostitution, and late nights. If parents abandon their spoilt children, then the youngster will suffer untold miseries. If parents tolerate their children's bad behaviour, then they will suffer untold miseries. So the cause of cutting your hair can lead to HELL.
Das grew his hairs in 1998 and by 1999 was able to have Turban.

He was told by some female family member of his(mother figure) that he looks more handsome now.


It is not that simple:

U think that a guy having turban and hairs will be a better person then a guy without a turban ?

Tell me this :

What u will say to ur kid about turban :

1. See so many sikhs given there lifes cause they want to give the head instead of haris.

hmm .. But why ? What so special about long hairs on head ?

And even if u u should keep long hairs then why tie it up? Why not have a ponny ?

2. Then u probably will say that cause Turban is a sign of pride and iin old times rich and ownerable poeple use to wear it .. so our gurus raised our level to them.

Ok then why today ? Is Turban a sign of all these things even today ? I dont think so .

3. Cause our Gurus told us to wear these 5 K's .... then u will explain the imp of 5 K's

And probaably some other reasons also ... now u cannot explain these things to a 5 year boy . And if u keep on telling stories to him then by the time he will grow up he will not care about these things as he will not feel the imp of having these things.


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Gurmukhs will never complain on Sikh Rehat Maryada. Manmukhs will. Because they find no logic in the Guru's sabbat surat roop. There is no shortage of manmukhs. If you hang around with Manmukhs long enough, you will be influenced to think like them. Gurmukhs have Guru's asra. Manmukhs have the world's asra. Gurmukhs know that by following the Guru's ways, they are not deserted, only tested. Manmukhs always follow a road towards misery and short-lived happiness. Manmukhs can sell they religion and Guru for any worldly pursuit. Manmukhs do not realise what Gurubani teaches. E.g. "sukh mein bhao sanggi bheai, dukh mein sang na koye, kaho Nanak sunn re manna, anth sahaii hoye."
Manmukhs won't even bother to look up the translation of Gurbani.

Thousand apologies.


Agree ... And pardon me if i hurt any body. Cause i belive that just by praying to GOD and doing paath Puja Sikhism will not survive. Tell me if i am wrong , Outside Punjab Even the word sikh converts to " Sardar" or "Punjabi" in india.
Punjab is in the top three states where female kid is killed before she can come to this world.
In areas like Delhi people take sardars as more of fun item then a human.
Sikh Parents themselves have not much idea about sikhism what u expect from the kids.

Gurmukh ???? Oh dear ... i can assure u if we keep on telling our kids these types of words this sikhism will not survive.

I think the only way to impart sihism to next generation is that we have to nourish our kids from the tender age in the way that when they grow up as young lads u dont have t oexplain them what is sikhism.

See our gurus and so many others have given their lives to take us out of crowd and gave us this identity but they havent given this idenetity for "IDENTITY" sake they did so many good things for society and human race and we should also do the same. Else there is no point of being sikh if u are not doing any thing what our gurus intended us to do.
Reg.sikhs haircuts
Really it is very disturbing to listen that most of the young sikh boys pefer to live without long hair and turban in thye race of fashion. If the thinking of the future generation is like this , what will happen to the future of Sikhi, this will come to an end one day. Oh No, this will be very dangerous for the whole community. Our Gurus and so many other people have given kurbanis for the long hair and turban. We all should protect our hair and turban. We are fighting for wearing turban in schools and at work places in other countries.
a small group of misguided youths should sure think about the symbol i.e long hair and pride of sikh (identification of sikh) i.e turban.
I appeal to those sikh youths who have cut their hair, to please try to come in the line again by keeping long hair and wearing turban. Because long hair and turban is not a hinderance in the path of progress. one should learn from our present P.M. Manmohan Singh Ji, MontekSingh Ahluwalia Ji, Lt Gen. J.J. Singh, Singer Pammi Bai. Great T.V Personality S. NavJot Singh Siddhu and so many others.
With love , blessings, happiness and sumat from Waheguru Ji.


yes, its a sad fact that more and more sikhs are cutting their hair for a variety of reasons. looking cool, "being" one of the crowd,turban getting in the way,these are infact all very lame excuses.

what makes you think those are lame excuses? They sound like reasonable reasons to me


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Here’s what a positive attitude requires from you:
§ Deciding what your goals are then doing everything you can to make them come true.
§ Looking toward the future with hope and optimism.
§ Paying attention to the attitudes and emotions that can sabotage, defeat you or turn you sour, such as lashing out at the people you care about (and who care about you), letting fear get the better of you, permitting yourself to feel defeated and giving up on your dreams.
§ Taking life’s ups and downs in stride. Keeping your eyes on the big picture and not letting every disappointment or setback defeat your spirit.
§ Making sure you never forget that the most important thing in life is about the quality of your relationships with those you care about—and to do everything you can to keep those relationships reciprocal, alive, vital, close and connected.
§ Empathy and compassion: seeing things from another person’s perspective, not just your own. Being sensitive to how your words, actions and behaviors impact others and their feelings. Being able to stand inside someone else’s experience and emotions with a desire to understand why they feel as they do.
§ Having an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving about what you have, what you’ve accomplished, what you are and what you’re becoming.
§ Making sure you don’t get self-destructive—or destructive to others.
§ Living upright, with honor and integrity. Being consistently kind, honest and decent. Consistently doing the right thing.
§ Keeping yourself physically active, vital and fit.
§ Reaching out to others. Extending a welcoming hand rather than feeling sorry for yourself that others aren’t reaching out to you.
§ Focusing on what you’re trying to create and what you have to look forward to—not what has hurt or disappointed you. Keeping your outlook half full rather than half empty.
§ Being open-hearted, open to new possibilities and new people in your life, receptive to new ways of looking at things and new experiences. Always being receptive to expanding who you are, your knowledge and skills and your

You can read this with either a positive attitude or a negative one. The choice is always yours.
s S Akaal
I agree with the views of Veer rajwinder Ji.
U R 10% right. We , the parents, have not much awareness\idea about sikhism, how can we expect from our children. Bhagti (path Puja) with shakti (strong determination) for survival of sikhi is required.
I may be wrong, Please forgive me.
Sat sri akaal.

Niku 38

After reading some of the replies, i am amazed at how some of the people who have left replies have SIKH names, yet what is said that we as sikhs do not need aturban. Tell me WHAT distinguishes a sikh from any onter race on earth. YES,9 times out of 10 is the turban & the long hair. So if you use the name, use the identity. I'm afraid you cant be a bit of both, and you cant have you cake & eat it. Its just avoiding the whole issue.

Its up to us as perants to educate our children. My friend Rajwinder says ,what do i say to my son about the turban, Well as a sikh, i have educated him, and he has a turban and hopefully he will continue to have one, but in the future if he changes his mind, then that is his choice, but at least i have tried.
My friend(s) read your sikh history, the inspiring stories and physical evidence will move even the remotised of the sikh mind. We cannot give up on keeping the the hair & turban. We must keep it going , we must retain our identity.

keep the faith otherwise sikhism will lose its way and sucked up into another religion. It up to us at this moment to keep it alive.
who says life is easy. rise to the challenge oh sikh warriors!


Ok what i cant understand is " Why u want to keep a seaprate identity when u r not doing any thing seaprate from the others who dont have hairs and turban"??

if u wear a turban then what special u do apart from having long hairs on ur face and having turban on ur head >?


I dont want to say much on this topic as everybody is giving there opinion and opinion do differ so is the replies to this thread

But one thing I want to clear here

In areas like Delhi people take sardars as more of fun item then a human.

Dear Friend This is your opinion /imagination ( watching bollywood flicks)
and I hope you dont take such things as facts until you confirm them personally

I ahve lived most part of life in Punjab ( rural/urban ) almost 22 years and also got chance to live in various other cities in India and abroad .I have lived and woked in Delhi for one year and still keep visiting now and then but never I felt like what you have said

On the contrary I find sikhs a most respected communty there

one example I would like to give you : on very forst day when I reached delhi for job interview in Hospital . after the interview i was nervous but to my suprise evry body ( my collegues , people already wokring there ) told me in same tone Saradarji apko job jaroor milaga aisa kabbi nahi dekha ki sardarji ko job nahi mila and over the years I observed that Sikh Community is so well to do in Delhi that People are jelous of them for their success

about making fun of sikhs situation seems oposite here I would say KIds of delhi sikhs are among the worst hooligans in delhi in ercent times ( which i think is really shameful!)

well my experience tell me this what i have written but other people from delhi can conform this .and also you can be very right according to your observations

Take care

Jatinder Singh

Niku 38

Dear Rajwinder ji , let me tell you a story. I have a neighbour, who fought in WW2, in burma to be precise. When i first moved to where i am living now , my neighbour(dennis) cam round and introduced himself and then mentioned he recognised me as a Sikh because of my turban & beard. he then went on to explain how he fought with sikhs in the british army in Burma. I was quite taken a back by this but was very pleased ,it made me realise that that i should be grateful and respect the religion i have been born into.

As for a difference between non cut hair and cut hair, i cannot say i do anything different than a cut hair sikh. i do path every morning, do not drink etc, because i feel compelled by to retain core values of my religion and to pass it on to my family.

Our 10th guru bestowed an indentity on us , if you feel this is not important enough , then thats your choice my friend.

what i will say, that my peers and cousins who do have cut hair do tend to treat me differently and with more respect. WHY, I DO NOT KNOW ,perhaps its the turban?

sikhs, through history have been the protectors of honesty & truth. remember, one fact, when the moguls ruled India through tyranny, if the sikhs had'nt stepped in , the whole of india would be muslim, and hinduism wold be virtually non existent. it was for these seperate traites (indentity) that there were many sikh regiments in the british army, where keeping a beard & turban were mandatory. so if the britsh recognied it, why dont other people

thanks for reading.
Dear Rajwinder ji , let me tell you a story. I have a neighbour, who fought in WW2, in burma to be precise. When i first moved to where i am living now , my neighbour(dennis) cam round and introduced himself and then mentioned he recognised me as a Sikh because of my turban & beard. he then went on to explain how he fought with sikhs in the british army in Burma. I was quite taken a back by this but was very pleased ,it made me realise that that i should be grateful and respect the religion i have been born into.

so if the britsh recognied it, why dont other people

Great !!

Had a similar experience, Some Germans were on a contract visit to my Airlines and every time they used to see me they used to fold hands (as if they wanna say Sat Sri Akaal). They knew about Sikhs, about Turban & beard and Guru Gobind Singh ji.
Unfortunately to get similar responses from fellow Indians is too nice to be true.

About Sikhs cutting hair...
Keeping of unshaven hair (Kesh) means that the Sikh lives in and resigns himself to the Will of God (Hukam)... Choice is your's friends. I chose to be a Sikh.
It is always nice to be complete sikh else one is not a sikh. If one is not a sikh let one do that one likes. Why bother and enter into endless discussion.

It is the way I see things.Yes, There are many sahajdhari's who call them sikhs or Mona sikhs. As amarpreet ji said, choice is all yours.
To know more about hair power...

Hair Power I

One of the benefits listed was that hair helps the body produce vitamin D from the sun. Wouldn't covering the hair with a turban block the sun from the hair, again declining God's gift?

In the first post, it was mentioned that the turbans were to help distinguish the Sikh from the others. That sounds like a man-made ego enhancer to me - no disrespect intended, so please forgive any harsh sound. I only wish to point to the truth and ask you to think about what makes the most sense.

Perhaps wearing a turban sometimes is good - I have noticed that if I anoint my hair with oil before putting a turban on, it both helps the turban fit better, and it appears to help the health of my hair. Perhaps the turban does serve to protect the hair from the harshness of the elements sometimes, but I also propose that the turban was not meant to be on the head at all times. If God made us just as we ought to be, and E wanted us to have a turban on at all times, we would have been born with one. Instead E gave us minds to decide what we should do with his gifts.

- With all due respect, please forgive me.