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University of Texas Sikh Students Association hosts Tie-a-Turban Day for Awareness Week

04/18/2008


http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2008/04/18/University/Sikh-Students.Association.Hosts.TieATurban.Day.For.Awareness.Week-3334944.shtml
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    The Sikh Students Association and other Sikhs from the UT community offered to tie turbans on the heads of passers-by on the West Mall Thursday.

    The group offered food and answered questions for students during "Tie-a-Turban Day," which is part of Sikh Awareness Week, to give students an understanding about the religion.

    "For us, it represents humility and sovereignty," association member Gurjit Singh said about the turbans.

    He added that there is a common misconception that all turbans are associated with Islamic culture, but in actuality 99 percent of people who wear turbans in America are Sikhs. Turbans are common in the Middle East because of the weather or fashion, he said.


    A member of the Sikh Students Association ties a turban on sports management freshman Anish Malpani in honor of Sikh Awareness Week. The association will host Bhangra Night tonight at the Union. Media Credit: Andrea Lai


    Gurpreet Singh, a UT graduate and a medical student at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, agreed that people unfamiliar with Sikhism sometimes mistake Sikhs for Muslims. Gurpreet Singh said one of his family members, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was murdered in Arizona four days after Sept. 11, 2001 by a man who stereotyped his turban and beard with that of an Arab.

    "They're not even required to wear one, and we are," Gurpreet Singh said.

    He added that the turban was originally used as a symbol of brotherhood, which united all the members of the Indian caste system and put them on an equal level. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, spoke out against the prejudice and inequality that was prevalent in Asia and the Middle East in the 15th and 16th centuries.

    "It's pretty unique in that it stresses universal brotherhood," said Harjot Kaur, a biology and pre-medicine senior. "In fact, we have members of different faiths included in our Granth Sahib."

    Nicolas Watine, an economics freshman, said the association's approach was good compared to more aggressive groups on the West Mall. He said he enjoyed learning about Sikhism at the event's comfortable setting.

    "It's really engaging," Watine said. "It's a really good time."

    Inder Singh, a UT graduate, said the Sikh Students Association was more concerned with explaining the religion because Sikhs do not support aggressive conversion.

    "It's more of getting to know what we believe in and being overall accepting of all religions," he said.

    Web sites such as Sikhnet, Sikhiwiki and Sikhitube also take strides toward accurately portraying the religion using popular media.

    The association will host Bhangra Night tonight in the Texas Union Showroom from 8 p.m. to midnight for members of the UT community to learn the traditional Bhangra dance.

    -By Sean Beherec
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