Kids Corner

Standing out: Above - The Pink Turban Brigade and a fellow Iron Maiden fan from Denmark after the band’s concert in Singapore last month.


Real Men Wear Pink




Who says real men can't wear pink?

There they were at the Green Day concert - six pink turbans bobbing up and down in the crowd. They stood out so much that frontman Billie Joe Armstrong even pulled one of them up on stage for a stage dive.

Even if you missed them at that particular Singapore concert, you would probably have seen them at subsequent concerts by Placebo, Deep Purple, Russian Circles, Kula Shaker in KL; or the Slash, Iron Maiden, and the recent Big Night Out gigs in Singapore.

Who are these mysterious pink-turbaned giants, and where are they from? Why do they pop up at almost every rock concert held in the region? And most importantly of all, why pink?

"Pink is the last colour that people would expect a hairy, muscular man to wear!" said Hargobind Singh, 23, with a laugh. "Pink isn't exactly a popular colour amongst men, and it takes a lot of guts to tie a pink turban or wear anything that's pink. In a group, we felt a lot more confident doing it."

One of the founders of the "pink turban brigade" (that's not their official name, by the way), Hargobind agreed to an interview about their little group. Little did I know that he would turn up with another five members of the brigade, which to a small Chinese dude like me was pretty darn intimidating!

As it turns out, the six members of the brigade are all related. The six that showed up for the interview comprised cousins Hargobind; Tarsem Singh, 24; Jasdev Singh, 30; Dalip Singh, 19; Karam Singh, 19; and 18-year-old Singaporean Gur Sevak Singh (also known as the "lucky fellow who got to stage dive at the Green Day concert").

Speaking of Green Day, that concert was actually the first time they all decided to show up in those fetching pink turbans.

"We have done the pink turban thing before, just not at concerts. Green Day was where the whole pink-turban-concert-going thing started," said Hargobind. "I had seen them in Britain in 2002, so when I found out they were performing in Singapore, we decided to go for it. That was the first time we all went to a concert as a group."

Although they can't remember exactly who had the bright idea of tying pink turbans, Hargobind said that the main idea behind it was to show that they were proud of their own faith.

"We have many concert-going Sikh friends as well, but most of them either don't tie a turban or keep a very low profile because they feel embarrassed or are uncomfortable with being associated with the negative (quality) that rock 'n' roll has.

"We, on the other hand, didn't want to be ashamed of the fact that we are Sikh and going for a concert," he said.

"So instead of hiding it, we took it to a whole new level and made it easy for people to spot us! We wanted it to be known that it was cool that we are proud of our faith, but we still want to be able to enjoy music."

They certainly do stand out whenever they get together. Even when there were only three of them during the recent Iron Maiden concert in Singapore, they could still be spotted in crowd shots of the event, leading one Facebook comment, dubbing them the "three wise men".

Still, their most memorable moment so far as a collective was being acknowledged by Slash and Miles Kennedy during their Singapore concert.

"During the first Slash concert, we were acknowledged repeatedly by (vocalist) Miles Kennedy, and Slash even gave us a salute. And during Big Night Out, Jasdev won some tickets to the Slash meet and greet session. When we went in, their head of security pointed us out to Slash and mentioned that they'd been talking about us after their last show!" said Hargobind gleefully.

One thing for sure though, you'll never see them at a Justin Bieber or Maroon 5 concert.

"That's not cool, man!" said Tarsem. "We're all fans of rock music, and we would never go to a concert like that! One great thing (about the group) is that we all enjoy the same music and it's always much better going to concerts as a group.

According to Hargobind, some of them are in a band as well.

"We call ourselves Anhad - in Bhai language, it means ‘the unstruck melody' and we're currently in the process of cutting our own CD. We've taken some music from the Sikh faith and given it a bit of a blues rock vibe," he said proudly.

While they are happy that word has spread about their little group, they are not looking to recruit new members. "We are all cousins, and we want to keep this within ourselves. Besides, we're so comfortable with each other ... we spend way too much time with each other!" Hargobind added.

If there's one major complaint about their group, it's that they stand out so much that the girls in their group tend to be ignored. "We have three girls who always come with us, and they are really upset because nobody notices them! We really feel bad about it!" said Hargobind with a laugh.

"Every time a photographer comes along, they would say, "No, no, I just want THEM in the photo'! Recently, they've tried to get attention by wearing pink as well, but they always seem to get left out anyway!" he concluded.


[Courtesy: The Star, Singapore]

April 25, 2011


Conversation about this article

1: Inni Kaur (Fairfield, CT, U.S.A.), April 25, 2011, 11:23 AM.

I'd love to see more Sardars in pink turbans and pink ties. My husband wears one occasionally and he totally rocks. Real men wear pink - in my opinion!

2: Ravinder Singh Taneja (Westerville, Ohio, U.S.A.), April 25, 2011, 2:58 PM.

I wear a pink turban (with a light pink shirt) quite frequently (both at work and outside) and it always draws favorable comments. On the other hand, I wore a pink turban one day while on a recent trip to India and my older sister commented, "viyah te chaliyan?" (are you going to a wedding?) Many years ago (again, on a trip to India) I wore a green colored shirt and a matching turban - and my mother remarked, "eh saang baN key kithey chalian?" I don't know the exact English equivalent of the punjabi "saang", but what she meant was that I was looking like a jester! Different cultural reactions, you think?

3: Aryeh Leib (Israel), April 27, 2011, 4:09 PM.

Indeed. At my first visit to a gurdwara almost a year ago, I was crowned with a turban for the occasion - hot pink with narrow silver bands running through the material. I felt myself honored. And boy, what a way to get noticed! I still treasure the experience - and the turban.

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