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Turbans Adorn New York's Times Square






The iconic Times Square in New York was seeped in the colours of Sikh culture and traditions as thousands of community members gathered in New York to celebrate Turban Day, an annual Vaisakhi celebration and a day to educate fellow Americans about Sikhism.

Legendary Olympian Milkha Singh - ‘The Flying Sikh’ - addressed one of the largest such celebrations in the US, calling on Sikh-Americans to educate the new generation about the significance of Sikhism.

Hundreds of excited tourists and children queued up at the popular city destination to get turbans tied on their heads in bright colours, and took pictures and selfies wearing them as 'Turban Day' was also celebrated at the event.

The participants jostled to get a picture clicked with the elderly 'Flying Sikh', who had travelled from Canada for the event.

"Today if the Sikhs have a name, are known around the world, it is because of the turban. Milkha Singh is called a 'Flying Sikh' because I have the turban on my head and the beard on my face. My beard and turban are the reasons for the respect and recognition that I have across the world," Milkha Singh said.

The event was aimed at not only celebrating the Sikh high holiday marking the creation of the Khalsa but also educating Americans and thousands of tourists about Sikhi.

The organizers said they hoped it would also make non-Sikhs aware of the significance of the Sikh articles of faith like the turban and beard and to address the misinformation about Sikhism that leads to profiling and backlash against members of the community, particularly after the 9/11 attack.

"People here should know that Sikhs are warriors, they have fought for justice through history and will do everything to help others. The event will inspire people here and educate them about us, they will get to know who we are," Milkha Singh said, lauding the organisers for putting together the event.

In his message to the gathering, he said he would like to see "more Milkha Singhs" spread across the US and the world.

Concerned that Sikh articles of faith such as the turban and beard are often still misconstrued and associated with Middle-Easterners and therefore terrorism, the organisers invited passers-by and those at the event to get a turban tied on their heads, and answered any questions they had.

[Edited for]
April 18, 2016

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), April 18, 2016, 3:11 PM.

What a lovely way to educate! In the midst of a sea of colourful turbans and hope, Guru ka Langar was also served for the multitude. "Kahaaveh kharcheh rull mil bhaa-ee / tote na aavai vadho-jaa-ee" [GGS:186.2] - "Breaking bread and sharing together, one's resources do not diminish, only increase ..."

2: G J Singh (Scottsdale, Arizona, USA), April 20, 2016, 4:29 PM.

There were a few times when I was a young boy and patkas were not yet in vogue, we would take our turbans off on the field to play sports with just a kerchief on our joorra.

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