Turbans And TrustCATHERINE HEUZENROEDER
As people submit to having five metres of soft, colourful fabric wrapped around their heads, they feel comfortable asking all sorts of questions about the headwear.
Starting a conversation and building understanding is the basis for a program developed by the Australian Sikh community called ‘Turbans and Trust‘.
"The idea is to try to demystify turbans in Australia," volunteer Pam Singh said. "The majority of people wearing turbans in Australia are Sikhs.”
The ‘Turbans and Trust’ program proved popular at Harmony Day activities held on the weekend in the Riverland in regional South Australia.
"We had such a positive response from everyone that came," Ms Pam Singh said. "People allow us to tie a turban on their heads and while we are tying the turban, we have a conversation about Sikhism … We actually ran out of turbans and people actually wanted to keep them; it was such a fantastic day."
The Riverland has the largest population of Sikhs in regional South Australia.
Pam, who grew up on a fruit block at Glossop, said she was pleased the Sikh community had become involved in the region's multicultural festivals.
"Most of the Sikh-Australians settled in the Riverland some time ago as farmers [and] my parents still have a block there in Glossop," she said.
"I went to high school in the Riverland and it's come a long way.
"I remember the multicultural festivals that we used to have at Berri and at that time, it was the Greek community and the Italians who had large participation. Now it's nice to see the Sikhs can contribute to the community as well."
‘Turbans and Trust’ was developed in 2012 as a response to perceptions that people wearing turbans were a threat.
The Sikh faith originated more than 500 years ago in Punjab and has become the fifth largest religion in the world.
Pam said both men and women wore turbans and that the headwear identified people within the Sikh religion.
"Our Guru wanted Sikhs to stand out from the crowd so that we could be easily identified, and should anyone need help they could look upon a Sikh to do that, to help them in whatever situation they were in."
The ‘Turbans and Trust’ program receives regular invitations to visit schools as some of the children wear turbans, or patkas.
Pam said the wearing of Sikh articles did not need to interfere with regular school and sporting activities.
"My son for example, when he plays basketball, we just cover the karra, the bracelet (an article of faith), with a sweat band," she said.
"In terms of the turban, we can remove it and just put a swim cap on for swimming. It is up to the individual as to how flexible they want to be."
Pam said equality was fundamental to Sikhism.
"The entire human race is equal regardless of your gender, your religion, your nationality or your sexual orientation," she said.
[Courtesy: Australian Broadcasting Corp. Edited for sikhchic.com]
March 23, 2017
Conversation about this article
1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), March 23, 2017, 2:12 PM.
Our niece Juhi did her MBA in France and decided to tie the knot. Being such a social being, she invited half of France to Chandigarh to witness her marriage. Each of the males in attendance was supplied with colourful turbans and it was such a scene to behold. Bhai Harbans Lal was there too, though sans a turban, and would remember that joyful scene.
2: Dalvinder Singh Grewal (Ludhiana, Punjab), March 23, 2017, 5:23 PM.
Young Sikh boys in rural Punjab have been neglecting the turban and even unshorn hair even though they claim to be devoted Sikhs. If we find the way they do service in gurdwaras world over and serve langar for the pilgrims to Anandpur one does not really understand why these young lads have started shunning the turban and unshorn hair. During discussions, three major reasons have surfaced: 1) They wanted better pastures abroad where they think they cannot get that with turban and unshorn hair. 2) The heroes in Indian movies and TV and Punjabi singers are all without turbans, and they want to emulate them. 3) Sikh girls, for the same reasons, have started preferring boys without turbans and unshorn hair. Other reasons generally cited but cannot be said to be very plausible, include: I cannot keep unshorn hair since it is difficult to manage. I cannot tie a turban as it causes me a headache, etc. There is a strong need to cause awareness. We started with having a turban competition in the 80s in Muktsar which has now become global. Even in various Mr World and Mr India competitions Sikhs with turbans have been doing well. This has started attracting the youth. In youth camps and seminars we have been propagating the advantages of turban and unshorn hair. Still, more needs to be done at a global level and especially in Punjab in this regard to ensure that maximum Sikh youth observe the Sikh discipline.