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Above: The author. Below: the author's friends at the Vaisakhi parade - L to R, political analyst Ravinder Singh Gill, Surrey park director Shaba Singh Hundal, and Radio India managing director Maninder Singh Gill.


My Turban Brought Forth Smiles




Last week at the Vancouver Vaisakhi parade, I wore a blue nylon head covering - a scarf - similar to what many others, especially non-Sikhs, put on at the event.

Today, I took it one step further and put on a full turban, thanks to the help of Radio India broadcaster Gurpreet Singh (who is also a Georgia Straight contributor).

During a tour of the station before the Surrey Vaisakhi parade, Gurpreet said that he sometimes gets ribbed by his colleagues for not wearing a turban.

I told him that I would like to try one - so he emerged from another room with a turban for me to wear.

Farid Rohani, chair of a Vancouver-based multicultural think tank called the Laurier Institution, used a Flip camera to preserve this momentous event in perpetuity.

When I went out into the streets, there were lots of smiles from passersby, who weren't used to seeing a Caucasian dressing in this way for Vaisakhi. The festival celebrates the birth of the Khalsa in 1699 under Guru Gobind Singh.

So what was it like wearing a turban? I must admit, at first I couldn't hear properly because it covered my ears. But that was easily fixed.

It was very hot in Surrey today, and at times, I removed the turban just to cool down. I can't imagine what it would be like to don this on my head in India at the hottest time of the year.

But overall, it felt fantastic (to borrow Bill Vander Zalm's favourite word) receiving such a warm reception from so many people at the parade.

In particular, I would like to thank the Jhaj family (brothers Darshan Singh, Gurcharn Singh, and Baljit Singh), owners of West-Can Auto Parts, who showed great hospitality by letting me stay under their tent for over an hour.


[Courtesy: Georgia Straight]

April 25, 2011

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