Monday, April 09, 2007
Vanishing Sikh turbans finally get attention
In this new age of mass communication assaults and cultural penetrations, the Sikhs' turban, a distinguishing mark of the community is under constant threat, and many a Sikh youth are giving up this symbol of faith that has been responsible for centuries for the unique look of the community. Largely worn by the males, (though some womenfolk also do), the turban has been and is being discarded by many a Sikh youth who are getting their hair shorn.
Young Sikhs are abandoning the traditional headwear, wearying of the elaborate ceremony of maintaining long hair and knotting it under six yards of starched cotton.
Politically incorrect jokes, misplaced priorities and massive Bollywood onslaught have all contributed to the Sikhs taking a path which makes them 'patit' (apostate), but recently a number of efforts have been undertaken to pull back from the brink.
The SGPC has recognised the problem for many years now but has doen precious little to arrest the patit phenomena। "Across Punjab a large number of Sikh youth have cut their hair and, sadly, the turban-tying ceremony for teenage boys has also become rare, even in villages" lamented Avtar Singh Makkar, the SGPC chief. The jathedars of all Sikh takhts, the supreme seats of temporal power, have stressed the issue repeatedly but little emerged except verbiage over the time.
Now, a Punjabi singer Pammi Bai has sang songs in favour of turban, and featured many a known men from the world of arts and cinema. The SGPC, has declared the April 13 harvest festival of Baisakhi as International Sikh Turban Day. Two turban-tying schools have been founded in the holy city of Amritsar, and a competition to select "Mr Singh International", is expected to attract widespread participation.
Every region in Punjab has its own distinct style of tying a turban, with each claiming theirs to be the best, and Mr Singh contestants are to be judged on how stylishly their headgear is tied.
The present reigning champion, Navjot Singh Sidhu, an MP and former Test cricketer, recently held a procession in Amritsar to instill a sense of pride among Sikh youth. Meanwhile, concern over acts of violence in the West against Sikhs, mistaken for members of the Taliban, who also sport turbans, has also prompted overseas campaigns to "dignify" the headgear.
Sikhism and Sikh Culture : www.sikhtourism.com