Kids Corner


Taking The Helmet Issue
Head On
With Technological Innovation:
The Roundtable Open Forum # 143






Some months back a law was passed in the Province of Ontario, Canada, mandating the use of protective helmets for all motorcyclists.

An appeal for an exemption for turbaned Sikhs -- asking for compliance along the lines of normal practice in various jurisdictions around the world, including in other parts of Canada -- was struck down. The ostensible grounds of safety and possible jeopardy to the health system trumped religious freedom, at the hands of politicians who tend to always give more weight to votes than they do to good, hard, solid evidence.

At the time this was quite a hot issue. Considering the present Arctic temperatures, I suspect that the good citizens of Ontario would again appreciate anything hot with equal zeal !

Well, my friends, we are fortunate to live in this age when new developments are hurled at us with dizzying speed.

A pair of Swedish women have taken on this issue - not for reasons having anything to do with Sikh Maryada - and have adapted the popular and successful air bag technology for the needs of cyclists.

It’s called the “Hövding Airbag.” [Please see images on the right.]

Like those which are now standard on every car, this bag inflates to protect the wearer's head (and neck!) from contact with the pavement.

Here's the kicker for the dastaar-wearing cyclist: it's not worn on the head, but around the neck as a fashion accessory until needed. You can even get color coordinated covers.

It remains to be seen whether it will accommodate a turban, but it should work very effectively with a patka.

If you go to reddit with the query, "wearing a helmet while wearing a turban?", you'll see a discussion that seems to indicate that even a parna would work.

Yes, at some $600 a pop, it's pricey, but wide adoption, combined with manufacturing efficiency, usually serves to bring down costs. It's certainly more cost-effective than head injuries, not to mention fatalities resulting from such.

Yes, it's good for single use only, but there appears to be a good chance that insurance companies would cover a replacement.

The main point is to be proactive, rather than reactive.

The challenge, however, no doubt will be the same old vote-seeking politicians. Once again, this innovation, if workable, will have to be approved by them so that it can be added as an adjunct to the helmet law.

Not an easy task in this day and age when common sense is in short supply, knee-jerk reactions easy to come by.     


I invite your thoughts on this new possibility.

*   *   *   *   *

Please CLICK here for more info on the Hövding Airbag.

February 21, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, USA), February 21, 2015, 3:05 PM.

All the Sikhs in the air force use the helmet while flying fighter planes, but while not flying on missions, they wear their usual turbans. I salute them. I believe that by doing this they are not loosing their Sikhi. Most of the Sikhs take off their turbans while sleeping, playing, swimming, and other exercises. That does not mean they have committed a wrong or infraction.

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 21, 2015, 10:28 PM.

Great invention, akin to the airbags in a motor vehicle which have made serious injury and certain death in an accident a thing of the past! This could be a great insurance policy for Sikhs who don't and won't wear a helmet!

3: Kulvinder Jit Kaur (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada), February 22, 2015, 8:46 AM.

Good invention and profitable business too for the inventor! However, it is a myth that the Sikhs NEVER remove their turbans when indulging in an outdoor activity. They do it everyday. They have done it for years without any one questioning it from the Sikh community. Cricket players have played in a patka. Field hockey players have played in a handkerchief tied on their top knot (joorrah). Swimmers have donned a rubber cap over their long hair and joorrah. It is a matter of common sense to find ways to continue the normal activities without having to resort to making it a political issue. Even 150 years ago, Sikh soldiers wore a helmet that was designed in such a way that it covered a small patka type of head covering and also offered the necessary protection. I urge the Sikhs to check this out in the Sikh Museum (on the Internet). If they did it in the 19th century to protect themselves, why can't we do it now?

4: Aman Singh (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), February 22, 2015, 4:33 PM.

I wear a turban but have no issue with wearing a smaller turban or patka when engaging in sports, etc. I see no reason why Sardars who CHOOSE to ride a motorcycle can't do the same. I feel we sometimes pick battles that have no real merit.

5: Dr Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 23, 2015, 1:39 PM.

Separation of Religion and State is a fundamental pillar of any successful, advanced and functioning democracy. Efforts to willy nilly curtail rights of any people to practice their religion or cultural traditions by elected or appointed Government officials must undergo the strictest scrutiny and be allowed to occur only in the narrowest of terms and scope and should first pass the test -- through solid, empirical evidence -- of sustainable public safety concerns. Once such a litmus test is passed, then only should the state intervene under the aegis of 'public policy' and only then will there be a need to, or be wise to look at technological alternatives. And that too should be done with the active participation of the state if it has chosen to interfere and intervene.

6: Daljit Singh (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), February 23, 2015, 10:22 PM.

Spot on, Aman Singh ji. "I feel we sometimes pick battles that have no real merit." I have played sports all my life with a patka or small dastaar. There are better community causes to spend our money and energy on.

7: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 24, 2015, 7:03 PM.

Commentator #3 - Kulvinder Jit Kaur ji: you have diffused all the controversy regarding this subject! I have just purchased a paragliding and extreme sports helmet and I know very well some Sikh men will never wear anything else above and beyond a dastaar or their Cotton Crown but if a Sikh actively decides to pursue a sport or pastime which is potentially risky and dangerous, then he or she has to ask themselves, is a brain damaged Sikh or dead Sikh better than a wise and healthy? The best place for certain death for a Sikh is life's battlefields, fighting and dying protecting a fellow human from evil and wickedness!

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Head On
With Technological Innovation:
The Roundtable Open Forum # 143 "

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