Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd)
10, Featherstone Road. Southall, Middx, U.K. UB2 5AA
Tel: +44 020 8574 1902
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Reg Charity No: 262404
Sikh Turban (Dastaar)
“Originally, I wore the turban for my religion. Then for my family. Now I wear it for myself”
Ravi Singh, USA
“There must be no doubt that the long coiled hair and the turban go together as one of the five K’s; as they are called, of the articles of the religion dating back over 500 years. Definitions have been clearly made by the gurus from time to time.”For a Sikh, the dastaar (Sikh turban) is a religious requirement by the Guru’s own injunction. Dastaar is an essential article of faith for male Sikhs, about that there should be no misunderstanding: men must wear it, while it is optional for women. Of the numerous quotations, which are available, two are given below from writers who were with Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The third quotation is from the “Sikh Reht Maryada – The Code of Sikh Conduct & Conventions” approved by the Khalsa Panth. So far as the Sikhs are concerned, all other arguments based on culture and tradition are of secondary importance.
(Sydney Bidwell MP Ealing-Southall speaking in the House of Commons on 28 January, 1975 ref. His book “The Turban Victory”.)
“Kangha dono wakt kar, paag chuneh kar baandh”
(Translation) Comb your (unshorn) hair twice a day and tie your turban neatly.
(Tanhkahnama of Bhai Nand Lal – a leading poet in Guru Gobind Singh’s court.)
“Joora sis kay madh baandhe(n), aor paag barhi baandhe(n)”
(Translation) Tie your hair-knot in the middle of your head and tie the full length turban (to distinguish it from the small turban called “keski” which some Sikhs wear underneath the full length turban).
(Reht Naama Bhai Daya Singh – the first of the Panj Piarays – the Five Beloved Ones.)
“Huto Guru Sri Jaani Jaan, sabhi bidhee Guru leyee pehchaan…
Sehli topi sir dhare(n), daaseh naam kahai……
Ab Sikhan roop paltaiyay, tej dhari jim lakh tao pai…
Shatri roop sundar att laagay, kes sis sir bandhio paagay…”
(Translation) And so the All Knowing Guru recognised the need…these people wear a cap and have names like “Daas” (slave or servant)….now the appearance (and personality) of the Sikhs will be changed and they shall be recognised in their distinctive glamour amongst thousands. The (saint)warrior appearance is attractive with unshorn hair and turban tied on the head.
(“Sr Guru Panth Prakash” by Bhai Ratan Singh Bhangu)
“For a Sikh, there is no restriction or requirement as to dress except that he [or she] must wear Kachhehra [a drawer type of garment] and turban. A Sikh woman may or may not tie a turban.”I was very much impressed when Dya Singh of Australia (who needs no introduction) first showed me the photograph of young dastaar-dhari, sabat-surat Ravi Singh with President George Bush, who had his friendly arm over Ravi’s shoulder. “Originally, I wore the turban for my religion. Then for my family. Now I wear it for myself” wrote Ravi Singh of USA. Born and raised as a Sikh American in Illinois, he graduated from Marmion Military Acadamey. He made history by becoming the first US cadet ever to graduate from a military academy with a turban. And read on! “He’s been an aide to the lieutenant governor & state treasurer of Illinois, a student body president, an NCAA Division I golf captain, a candidate for public office, a community activist, involved in two presidential campaigns, an international lecturer, and business entrepreneur.” And he has now written “Leadership by Turban – An American Story” which should be “must read” for all Sikh youth.
Panth approved “Sikh Reht Maryada – The Code of Sikh Conduct & Conventions”.
“Discovering your roots is the key to half your identity. The rest is up to you.” is Ravi’s experience.It becomes rather tedious reading Sikh scholars quoting the Old Testament, “Once they enter the gates of the inner Court, they are to wear vestments. They shalt wear linen turban, and linen drawers on their loins.” So what, I ask myself. Is it not enough that my Guru instructed me to wear a turban over my unshorn hair? In the same vein, references by Sikh scholars to Samson and myths about the power of hair do sound quite ridiculous!
“Leadership by Turban” is not a theory but a proven fact.I started with a quotation from the a speech in the House of Commons, let me finish with one from the House of Lords:
“There is absolutely no doubt that the wearing of the turban is an essential part of the Sikh religion. The ten gurus, the founders of the religion and the architects of it, all wore turban themselves.” Lord Avebury 5th October 1976 – Second Reading of the “Motor-cycle Crash-Helmets (Religious exemption) Bill”.
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