Kids Corner

Rupinder "Rup" Singh Magon, of "Josh The Band."


Turban Chic





Turbans have been around for centuries.

Initially, turbans were seen as a sign of royalty, nobility and class. After 9/11, however, the turban came to represent anything but.

“This was due to the massive international media misrepresentation of turbaned individuals as terrorists,” says Rupinder “Rup” Singh Magon, lead singer of Canada’s internationally successful fusion band JoSH the BaND.

“Consequently, without anyone knowing the meaning of a turban -- or who actually wore turbans and why -- there were many hate crimes directed towards Sikhs,” continues Rup, himself a Sikh—though he notes that turbans have been worn historically in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and other religions besides Sikhism.

To restore the image of the turban to its regal origins, international celebrities like Rupinder and Sikh-American actor and jewelry designer Waris Singh Ahluwalia are making inroads in returning the turban to its rightful place -- and with style.

Rup, who lived in Manhattan on 9/11, is a Canadian-born Sikh whose family immigrated from Nairobi, Kenya. Aside from a budding acting career which includes a role in acclaimed director Deepa Mehta’s new film Beeba Boys, his band JTB (JoSH the BaND) is brand ambassador for Samsung in Pakistan, making him the first Sikh to appear on billboards and in TV commercials in the country.

As Rup notes, there are comparatively few Sikhs in Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country. Noteworthy, too, is that Samsung, as a mainstream international brand, is clearly promoting the turban image -- not to mention the artist who represents it.

Back in the U.S., meanwhile, Waris Singh Ahluwalia was the face of a popular Gap campaign last year, though a subway poster featuring the turbaned Sikh was defaced by racist graffiti. Undeterred, the company quickly changed its Twitter background picture to that of Waris, prompting a “Thank you, Gap” campaign from members of the Sikh community: "By placing a Sikh model in prominent locations on billboards, direct mail advertising and digital channels, you have raised the profile of Sikhs in ways the community couldn’t have accomplished with its limited resources,” they wrote. “The community has tremendously benefitted from the attention it has received through Gap’s marketing campaign."

Furthering this new Turban Pride, the Surat Initiative, an organization that advocates on key issues affecting the Sikh community, held a Turban Day last year in New York and Washington, D.C., just before September 11. Sikhs came together at both locations to share their faith with others of various backgrounds and tie turbans and otherwise educate people about Sikh religious tradition.

“We look forward to standing together and educating our neighbors,” said a Surat release. “We believe that Turban Day will go a long way in breaking down social barriers and creating a society that accepts and respects Sikhs, no matter how different we might look.”

Indeed, another such barrier has now been broken down with a Tommy Hilfiger ad in Gentleman’s Quarterly. The handsome man leaning against a blue-tooth Marshall speaker and garbed in Hilfiger, trenchcoat, suit, shirt and watch is none other than model Manik Singh, who also sports an equally fashionable blue turban.

It’s a positive image, in keeping with the turban’s regal heritage.

[Courtesy: Examiner. Edited  for]
September 24, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 24, 2014, 5:01 PM.

Rupinder and Waris need to be looked upon by us as Superstar Sikhs, just like Samsung and GAP and others do!

2: Rani (United Kingdom), September 24, 2014, 11:00 PM.

Baldev, you're so right but it seems like no one cares.

3: Baldev Singh  (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 25, 2014, 10:07 AM.

Rani Kaur ji, you are a princess twice over for your honesty ... We were really shocked yesterday at our gurdwara Saheb by some of the scruffy characters who looked like the cat had dragged them in! Or were they just frequenting the gurdwara for the Guru ka Langar, without having any respect for Guru Sahib.

4: Kanwarjeet Singh (USA), September 25, 2014, 5:10 PM.

Oh, Baldev Singh ji, what are you talking about! We don't need Rup and Waris, we already have superstars like Jazzy B and Diljit (sarcasm intended).

5: Kaala Singh (Punjab), October 01, 2014, 12:04 PM.

The turbaned Sikh appearance should become "normal" in the Western world which is not the case now. For that to happen, Sikhs should become more visible and involved in their communities and home countries. Unfortunately, we live in times when the the likes of the "Islamic state" commit barbaric acts and become more visible to the world and the turban is mistakenly equated with terror.

Comment on "Turban Chic"

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.