Kids Corner

Above: the author. Below: three sartorial options exercised by some people.


Looking - And Being - Good is What Sikhi Is All About





There’s a weird twist that has spawned from the Sikh identity in the West.

When Guru Gobind Singh first initiated the Khalsa, he prescribed that Sikhs wear dastaars, and one of the reasons was so that each Sikh does not remain indistinguishable from the multitude of others, that is, not get "lost in the crowd"!

It’s a valid vision -  and turbaned Sikhs stand out uniquely wherever they are.

However, the Western World, after the tragic events of 9/11, has gone through a trend known as Islamaphobia. One of its traits is that ignorant and uninformed people mistake Sikhs for Arabs through carelesness.

How can we change this negativity?

By building on our identity, I would think!

We live in an age of all-pervasive materialism, and most of us now have an innate desire to look attractive to those around us. What’s noteworthy for us turbaned Sikhs, male and female, is that we have an advantage in the fashion world. We have a prominent and attractive headdress that we can use to our benefit to look better than all others.

Personally, I take my cue from my older cousin, Gurtegh Singh.

“I match my clothes with my turban everyday. I have about 120 colors that go with my clothes.” He adds that he also tries to match his turban with his accessories, such as shoes and ... yes, IPhone cases.

The response?

“The general consensus: my friends like it. I get complimented on it at least once a week, if not more.”

When I brought up the obvious question about girls, he said: “Many compliment me on it and have made special requests that I wear a certain color on a specific day.”

When high school came around in my life, I decided to amp things up a bit.

Rather than wearing my usual black turban every day, I gradually started to match my clothes like Gurtegh did. I noticed a change almost immediately in those around me. I was receiving compliments on my “swag”, left and right. I earned a reputation as “that-cool-kid-who-always-matches-his-turbans”, rather than the “terrorist”. I even had friends who told me they wished they had turbans to match their clothes!

In essence, I was starting to stand out positively, which increased my popularity. I welcomed this as it made me seem more approachable. That allowed many of my peers to ask me about Sikhi, and I expanded my base of opportunities to educate them about it.

Therefore, I’m taking the liberty of  calling upon those Sikhs, especially the younger ones, who aren’t feeling too comfortable with their look. They may wear a singular color daily, wrap the turban around mundanely as a daily chore, or may even decide to cover their unshorn hair in public with a baseball cap or a bandana, for example.

Why not indulge in some fashion - moderately and modestly - and look better?

There are numerous methods or tricks one can try, Gurtegh’s sense of matching being but one example.

Perhaps you could switch colors up a bit.

One personal example incorporates my favorite turban - purple - with a black fifty. I like to wear this with a Ralph Lauren Polo. The Polo is black, minus the horse and number logos. These two symbols are a deep purple, which match perfectly with my turban. The inversion creates, I'm told, a dazzling look.

Also, don’t be afraid to venture out and wear different colored turbans. When wearing a white shirt, I like to try out pinks, light greens, different shades of blues, and other contrasting colors. I embrace the same idea when I wear dark shirts, but with colors such as maroons, oranges, purples, etc. Shirts that are the same color of the turban, yet a different shade, work at times, too.

If anything, I highly recommend utilizing fashion creativity when dressing up. If a tie is involved, for example, I like to choose only solid-colored ties. I then choose a plain shirt - white or black - and use that color as the fifty in my turban.

The turban itself will match the tie, creating a sharp, magnificent look. I suggest something like that for the males. [Women, it seems, gravitate to these principles instinctively!]

Another tip regarding the tying of the turban itself.

Depending on the type of turban, don’t wrap it for the sole purpose of covering your head! Take your time and make your turban look good. Make sure your larhs (layers) are clean, not wrinkled, and are of the same size. Don’t tie the turban too big, too small, or too hastily, as it can break the whole look.

I personally like to tie a six or seven larh turban, and I have, to my surprise, received many compliments on it, from Sikh and non-Sikh alike!

Don’t be afraid to try new looks. However, keep in mind that one can always go overboard - which is a no-no as well. There are always times where one could be matching too much ... or not matching at all -  and it makes one appear only worse. Make sure you get some feedback from another person before wearing it in public.

In my opinion, building on the Sikh identity makes Sikhs stand out more positively in the Islamaphobic west. Personally, I feel confident about my image and proud to tie a turban, and I would like all of my fellow-Sikhs to adopt the same principle.

For males specifically -  if you have read my previous article on Sikhs and Dating (CLICK HERE), you'll see that dressing up well - all the time - will go a long way in addressing many of your concerns! 


January 18, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), January 18, 2012, 12:11 PM.

If you have true belief and know why we wear the dastaar and why we as Sikhs 'worship' goodness, then you not only walk around as royalty, but you get people of every ilk and ideology coming up to you and actually telling you why they respect Sikhs.

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), January 18, 2012, 1:15 PM.

Let this short clip speak for itself. Please click on the following site:

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), January 18, 2012, 4:12 PM.

An honest article which poses a challenge to our youth!

4: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), January 19, 2012, 4:32 PM.

Fantastic video! The style of dastaar worn by these champion Polo players is the original and best '5-larh' dastaar.

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