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How Handsome Is Thy Turban:
A Survey on Dating Turbaned and Bearded Sikhs

by SAHIB SINGH

 

 

 

Behold - How handsome is thy turban!

[Bhagat Namdev, GGS:727:17]

 

 

Valentine's Day stems from the Christian tradition whereby they honour one of their martyrs - Saint Valentine.

At the same time of the year as this observance, the temperate birds around England would begin their mating season. Geoffrey Chaucer, widely known as the Father of English Literature, wrote a poem known, "The Parliament of Foules". (His spelling skills were atrocious!)

In this epic, he used the St. Valentine's Day birds as metaphors of romance. The poem came to be known as the St. Valentine's Day poem, and the day has since been associated with love and romance.

For centuries now, lovers in the West have followed the tradition of exchanging gifts and love-notes on this day. By 1969, the day became even more intertwined with love, following the Sexual Revolution of the sixtees.

Pope Paul VI, spoil sport that he was, promptly deleted the day from the general Roman calendar.

Regardless, Valentine's Day has survived worse, and is now widely known as the day in which “love is in the air.”

With this day upon us once again, it’s the perfect time to talk about Sikhs and their views on love - which takes me back to my case study on Sikh males abandoning their identity in order to woo females. (Please see link below)

The article generated a lot of discussion, much of it positive and constructive. 

One of the negative reactions was from a handful who were upset at those Sikh girls for “not finding saabat soorat Sikhs attractive” and “only wanting to marry Sikhs who had abandoned the external identity" required by the Rehat.

One fuming e-mailer wrote, “Why should I keep my hair if even a girl form my own religion won’t accept me … a girl who fully knows why I keep the turban and beard? There’s no hope for me …”

One of the comments on sikhchic.com (# 47) wrote that it “sucks when one is in high school and all of the Sikh girls are dating only Sikh guys who have haircuts. It honestly makes a Sardar feel less of a man.”

In addition, each person in this small but disgruntled group I spoke to complained that they had NEVER met a Sikh girl who is attracted to Sardars, and that it took a toll on their self-confidence.

Personally, I call the assumption an overstatement - and a bit of an urban legend.

To believe that a great number of Sikh girls don't find Sardars attractive is not only stretching the facts but based on no solid evidence.

Sure, I have noticed some girls from amritdhari families who are marrying cut-haired Sikhs, but the conviction that all or most Sikh girls aren’t attracted to turbaned and bearded Sikhs is absurd.

To begin with, females have a variety of factors and reasons on which they decide who they find attractive.

After identifying those factors, I did some research and interviews within the young, female Sikh demography in the West to get a better inkling as to what Sikh girls are really thinking on this topic.

I have never met a Sikh girl that has a taste for Sardars.”

Before any assumption regarding women is made, one must take into account the dozens of external factors that come into play with a female’s “taste”. Some women go mainly for looks, while others seek personality, compatibility, someone that makes her laugh, intelligence, dedication to religion, status, money, etc.

The choice solely depends on what that girl is looking for in a man - which is not uniform for all.

What constitutes physical attraction also varies from girl to girl.

A slim, muscular body can be considered sexy for one female whereas a fuller, more chubby body can attract another.

Furthermore, what may once have been perceived as undesirable can change with time and trends.

“About three years ago, I used to find ‘baby faces’ very attractive. A year later, I began to appreciate the more pronounced … faces. I still, however, abhorred facial hair. Another two years later … I began to find facial hair attractive,” says Nupur Joshi of New York.

A female’s taste in non-physical traits also changes through time.

According to a study on Brazilian students by the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, women - when looking for short-term relationships - value physical and personal traits. When thinking about long-term relationships, however, they value deeper personal characteristics and the mate’s ability to make a good living.

Purvi Pandit of Florida states that “as women age, they have different needs. If goals, morals and priorities all change with age, why shouldn't women's taste in men? As you evolve as a person, your choice in a partner must evolve as well to fit your desired future.”

Taste in men fluctuates the greatest through experience. Many women, after coming out of destructive relationships, tend to have a reflection period in which they realize what they hated about their previous boyfriend. After comprehending the faults, these girls will try not to fall for the same type of person in the future.

To synopsize women’s taste in men - it purely depends on factors such as physical or non-physical characteristics, age and experience!

Taste is a right of choice that varies in women - a right that should be respected. Therefore, it is justified that Sikh women too want to make choices as to which Sardars they want to be with.

Of course, depending on the point of view, this phenomenon is detested by many.

Marrying a cut-haired Sikh would develop a greater chance for their children to continue to stray from Sikh principles. In essence, the tradition of the Khalsa ideal will, for that family, become a distant reality. 

However, is it really true that most Sikh girls do not find Sardars attractive?

I interviewed one hundred Sikh women on the issue, assuring all of them anonymity. My sample consisted of unmarried girls/women from all over the United States, as well as parts of Canada. I conducted a survey with questions relating to the choice between Turbaned vs. Non-Turbaned Sikhs as a preference for marriage.

As always, keep in mind that my sample size would need to be expanded for a more scientific research.

16 % of my sample claimed that they preferred non-turbaned Sikhs.

44 % preferred Turbaned Sikhs.

40 % had no preference.

Girls who preferred cut-haired Sikhs emphasized physical attraction. Some thought beards were a turn-off, and some did not like the attention-grabbing turban.

With regards to faith, some girls responded by saying that religious values are held in the heart rather than appearance.

“I see too many guys these days who claim to be gursikh, yet did not value Sikhi. I’d rather date a cut-haired guy who has value for himself and his religion, and could instill that in my children,” said one young woman.

In reference to children and loss of tradition, many said that their families could still be religious.

“My mom and dad are both "cut" Sikhs and I have grown up very religious. Since age 12, I’ve read Japji and Rehras everyday. I travel three hours to visit the gurdwara … I don’t see how it makes any difference.”

Women with no preference of turbaned or non-turbaned Sikh men mainly wrote that they searched for non-physical traits. Personality, family and occupation were among the top characteristics; these can be found in both turbaned and non-turbaned Sikhs.

They definitely enjoy the dastaar - especially if it’s used to ignite one’s sense of style (which refers back to my previous article - Please see second link below). However, they claim to find both suitable and awful qualities on guys on both sides of the spectrum.

“I know many MANY people that wear a puggh and don't cut their kesh, but haven't taken amrit ... they claim to be religious, but don't follow the principles laid out in Sikhi. Some lie and cheat people. Then, on the other hand, I know many cut-haired individuals that … pray on a regular basis and are extremely religious,” stated another girl.

She eventually concluded that she would rather be with a fairly religious cut-haired Sikh rather than a non-religious turbaned Sikh.

Some girls said that they were not too religious, but they liked turbaned Sikhs. However, they felt that turbaned Sikhs may come from strict, religious families that would get into conflict when it comes to ideology.

On the issue of children, most of these girls wrote that they would leave the decision to keep kesh up to their children. The rest wrote that they feel that the Sikh identity would be a worthy role model to children.

Forty-four percent of the girls surveyed voted that they want a turbaned Sikh only as a partner. The biggest reason they gave was Sikhi.

These girls are either religious or want to find more spirituality within their life, and they want to share that connection through their partners. These girls highlighted a strong attraction for the turban and beard.

“Personally, I find gursikh men to be FAR more attractive than clean shaven or cut-haired Sikhs. There's something majestic and strong about a man with a beard and neatly tied dastaar. He stands out; he commands respect; and he stands with dignity,” proclaims one.

In relation to children, the majority of these women want their next of kin to keep kesh. Therefore, they believed that a Sardar husband would be a perfect example to their children.

To my furious e-mailers who have been making their doomsday claims:  how come 84% of my sample clearly stated that they do find Sardars attractive?

When it comes to girls, remember that there are many factors in play as to why they may not be attracted to you. Or, not to point fingers, but perhaps there could be something to change within you? And no, the problem does NOT lie in your turban or beard, even if you have both.

The two incredible qualities that pertain mostly to full-fledged Sardars who understand and appreciate Sikhi is high self-confidence and self-esteem.

Almost all of the 84% who either preferred Sardars or were comfortable with them, mentioned it.

After 9/11, Sardars - being confused by the ignorant with Arabs - seem to be targets of some harassment. Through all of these obstacles, however, Sardars preserved their identity and progressed with their lives - which made them stronger, and more confident. This perseverance creates an attractive aura around Sardars - and many girls found that “damn” and/or “f**king” attractive (yes, some of them actually used these terms).

“A lot of guys who keep their hair past the challenging ages of secondary/ high school and into college, tend to have a confidence about them that stands out. I would be confident with it [with his appearance] if he was self-confident,” answered one girl.

Another believed that “you have to be confident with your appearance first before you seek approval of others; changing your appearance for others just shows that you aren't confident in yourself.”

To sum up, a turbaned Sikh must be proud and confident with their identity. As long as he carries himself well, girls WILL find him attractive.

If you feel as if you’re having problems with this, make a change (not a physical change). Try to build up your self-confidence. Firstly - have an optimistic attitude on EVERYTHING. Think about the good things that can happen if you succeed. Do not give off the impression that you are upset, desperate or distraught, and try not to be annoying or overbearing. This is an enormous turn-off for women.

No one likes a downer.

After this is achieved, have some mental reconstruction. This may sound corny and vain - but it works. Just tell yourself you’re confident. Tell yourself you’re good-looking. Tell yourself that you’re appealing to all. Heck, look in the mirror if you have to. Overlook all the flaws and smile at yourself.

Learn to love yourself.

In order to attain self-confidence, you must learn to treasure yourself and realize that your well-being is imperative.

Lastly, celebrate your individuality. If your identity contains something different, don’t conceal it - embrace it. Remember, if you were like everyone else, then you wouldn’t be who YOU are - a unique individual full of confidence, perseverance ... and Sikh pride.

As previously mentioned, many Sikh girls don’t have preferences for Sikh men because they find many Sardars that are not true to Sikhi. A Sikh is supposed to be one who is respectful, compassionate, intelligent, big-hearted, honest, hard-working, fun-loving ...  and humble. Why should a girl assume that Sardars are impeccable if she meets ones who do not possess these qualities? Ones who “lie and cheat” people?

Therefore, live up to these high ideals - they will only enhance your personality. Carry yourself well, have a Sikh persona, and combine that with an infectious confidence. It should create a magnificent, striking attraction with the potential to lure many to you.

Remember that a girl’s taste in men varies and must be respected. Yet preserve, embrace and flaunt your turban and beard. There will be a Sardarni that you will cross paths with - you'll find your soul-mate and you will merge, two bodies, one spirit!

 

To review the author's article, MythBuster: Dating & The Sikh Identity, PLEASE CLICK HERE

To review the author's article, Looking - And Being - Good Is What Sikhi Is All About, PLEASE CLICK HERE

 

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 13, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Davinder Singh (Nawan Shahar, Punjab), February 13, 2012, 1:38 PM.

I am wondering if the same research and survey is done in Punjab today, what would be the results. I believe facts and figures would be totally opposite to those presented above. The reasons may be: 1) The absence of fatherly figures to whom youth can look up to. 2) Lack of education (not to be misunderstood with formal traning that we go through in our schools and colleges to acquire degrees to procure jobs.) Instead of providing moral wisdom to the young generation by enlightening them with our values and rich Sikh heritage, we found more Heer-Ranjhas and Sohni Mahiwals in our curricula, no wonder why the stupid singers who boast and brag all day along on TV have accquired the status of role models in the minds of the young, who try to imitate them in every possible way.

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford), February 13, 2012, 2:25 PM.

Long, long article over Valentine's Day?...i lost interest when i got to ''i have never met a girl that has a taste for Sardars''...If a 'Sardar' follows the Guru and has a good Fashion sense and a strong witty personality,then every day is Valentines Day!...Women like Love and laughter first!

3: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 13, 2012, 2:34 PM.

What a lovely couple they make. Can anyone else compare to this? A Sikh in a turban is an incomparable prince and compels respect. "Khoob tayree pugree meethay tayray bol" [GGS:727.17] "O friend how attractive is your turban and your appearance! And how sweet is your speech and your words."

4: Chintan Singh (San Jose, California, U.S.A.), February 13, 2012, 2:44 PM.

An excellent, well-researched summary on a problem that is threatening our identity amongst the newer generations. However, a couple of points: First off, being true to Sikhi, i.e., self retrospection and improvement and all the things the author has mentioned above such as "respectful, compassionate, intelligent, big-hearted, honest, hard-working, fun-loving ... and humble" is a journey and life-long process. That does not mean it shouldn't be undertaken but to hold Sikh men accountable, before they adorn a turban, I believe is unrealistic. As Sikhs of the Guru, we all have to be on a life long journey of self improvement. A turban wearing Sikh male may not be perfect and may have a long way to go before acquiring all the qualities of a Sikh. However, because he wears a turban, having all the above qualities shouldn't be a pre-requisite to him being selected as a life partner, in my humble opinion. I'd like to ask that do non-Sikh men possess all the qualities in full, such as "respectful, compassionate, intelligent, big-hearted, honest, hard-working, fun-loving ... and humble" before they are selected by women as suitable companions? Aren't we all humans full of shortcomings that we each need to keep working on? Second, I wonder if the author has plans to expand the survey and research to the sub-continent. My feeling is that the 44% number would be much less in that part of the world. I have at least three examples of young women in my distant family who chose to marry non-turban wearing Sikhs or non-Sikhs.

5: Ari Singh (Sofia, Bulgaria), February 13, 2012, 5:44 PM.

As far as I know, most non-Sikh women prefer men with turbans! I have heard this so many times, in so many countries, particularly since the women I speak to don't know I am a Sikh. And women love white turbans! They say it makes the men look wiser and holier.

6: Farla Singh (Yuba City, California, U.S.A.), February 14, 2012, 11:42 AM.

It appears that today many are wearing the turbans and the girls are from Sikh families but there is no practice of the faith, which is where the problem comes in. We want to be Sikh "wordly-thinking-and-doing-people" but with no understanding of the faith. Bani tells us don't run after satiating the senses, or the hunger for wealth and property. But we all do it and we want it and hence the problems like the above are coming up. The main issue is that both the girls and boys want to call themselves Sikhs but don't want to practice the faith and really apply it to their lives. And if they did we wouldn't have these issues. Let us all wake up and smell the coffee. Bani says those who run after maya will only be consumed by it in the end.

7: Guramrat Kaur (Sterling, VA, U.S.A. ), February 14, 2012, 9:45 PM.

Good job with the article, Sahib! :)

8: Manjeet Shergill (Singapore), February 15, 2012, 9:04 AM.

Necessary topic - since it's about the mating game. But image, sex and confidence are complex issues - the simple solution is to live and let live. Remember, confidence attracts confidence.

9: R. Kaur (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), February 16, 2012, 2:34 AM.

Whether you are Sikh or not, men with turbans/beards are so-o-o attractive! I think these guys who have been e-mailing you definitely have some self esteem issues, they need to embrace themselves. I know it sounds super corny and all but really the more you love yourself, the more people who will fall in love with YOU for being YOU. Just my two cents ...

10: Gurdip Kaur (U.S.A.), February 16, 2012, 9:01 PM.

Certainly, the need to spread Sikh-based ideas is necessary for the young and new generations. A key place to target these would be in Punjab, which - like the rest of India - is more attracted to "western" ways, mostly because of the way they are portrayed in the media. I hope Sikhs in Punjab will come around to the true message of Sikhi before long.

11: J. Kaur (Richboro, PA, U.S.A.), February 17, 2012, 6:29 PM.

Beautiful article. I personally admire men with turban and beard and I believe the most important characteristics in a Gursikh are good character and high morals which makes a Gursikh handsome inside out, a real Khalsa. It is disheartening to see handsome Sikh guys cheating, cussing, disrespecting and drinking in bars/pubs, etc. The author has rightly mentioned that "The two incredible qualities that pertain mostly to full-fledged Sardars who understand and appreciate Sikhi is high self-confidence and self-esteem." Lastly, I really appreciate the wonderful job done by Sahib Singh in researching and writing this article.

12: Kanwar Singh (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), February 19, 2012, 2:29 AM.

Sahib ji, your article is beautiful. I am turbaned and serving in the military. I always get compliments from strangers, as well as from my female co-workers. Indeed, I am happily married. The important elements are indeed self-confidence and physical fitness. There is nothing more majestic than a well-dressed Sardar with a fit body.

13: P.J. (Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), March 15, 2012, 2:17 PM.

Amen to whoever said, "Confidence attracts confidence." The fact of the matter is that marriage is between two individuals who can care and understand one another. These individuals find each other by being the best persons they can be. This does not rest solely on their outer appearance or which faith they elect to follow. It is about being a humble, humanistic person who can see the value in another person and be willing to grow and experience life with them. Play it positive. Work on keeping high esteem for yourself in your own eyes, and good times will follow. =)

14: Harbhajan (Fresno, California, U.S.A.), April 08, 2012, 4:03 AM.

Maybe Sikh girls need to be more vocal about wanting to date and marry Sardars. You have to support Sikh men nowadays, you can't just expect to put turbans on kids in the west and expect them to grow up and be confident Sardars without proper support. And yes, this means that you Sikh girls need to step up and tell young Sardars how great it is that they are Sardars! Remember, Sikhi isn't just for men! If we want Sikhi to succeed, both genders must be into it! Not just men.

15: Ravinder Singh (Melbourne, Australia), May 17, 2012, 4:48 PM.

I take public transport to reach work, work in the top online car sales portal managing portfolio of car dealers (DRIVER personalities) - by the virtue of the crown I wear, touch wood! I am given due respect and regard in the local train, work place and the dealerships that I look after. This is a very encouraging article in a long time.

16: Zlata (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA), October 13, 2012, 9:37 AM.

I had a huge crush on a turbaned Sikh guy, but I didn't do anything about it because he is ten years younger than I am and I am sure his parents would not be happy. =(

17: Gurpreet Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), July 27, 2013, 8:20 AM.

Very well written. I agree with my friends that confidence and fitness is important. I also get compliments for my turban from people in different countries. I don't blame girls who says it is a turn-off or anything but if you see from their side, they may have not met 'real' Sardars. Could they have been ones who behaved badly or lied or just have Sikhi saroop but not much belief in Sikhi or confidence in communicating. One more reason which I think is equally important to share is that parents should take some initiative. If parents are not devoted to Sikhi, how can they expect their children to be. At least parents should give proper knowledge or put our history to their kids. Most messed up part I must say is Punjab where youth is into drugs and sees only luxuries. I don't know where we are heading but the future seems challenging. We have to be confident of what we are and I must say I got many compliments from my school and college days. Even now also at work, I stand unique. Everywhere I can feel pride in big gatherings where people see me and greet me with respect. Sikhs, if you feel girls don't like a turban or beard, those girls are not for you. Physical appearance should not be considered more over understanding, expectations, family, etc., for future happiness.

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