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|Summary of Question:||The Turban Factor|
|Date Posted:||Thursday, 5/17/2001 1:27 PM MDT|
Waheguru Ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ki Fateh!
I wrote this as an honest portrayal of my feelings and I still am confused. I was wondering if you could help me.
Reading one of sister Kamalla Rose Kaur's excellently-written articles entitled "Discourse on the 5 K's", I was surprised, but more delighted by her intriguing and frank statement that if a Sikh man wears a turban and cannot uphold the Reht associated with the turban, then by all means he should remove it. (This, she later explained, is applicable to Sikh women too). The idea caused me to think about the value and meaning of a turban, and as this was two days before my dad's cousin sister's wedding, it came into play in a big way for me.
The next day I sat, with the evening sun waiting patiently for me to process my thoughts before darkness came. I sat and pondered, on whether I was worthy of the honor of a turban, and if the next morning's special event was reason enough for me to wear the crown.
My father used to wear a crown, but for him it was as valuable as a baseball cap. Imagine yourself being told from the age of 10 that for the rest of your life you had to wrap a long piece of cloth around your head repeatedly until it resembled a triangle. You didn't like the peculiar feeling on your ears... or how it covered your silky hair... or how the other children looked at you... Imagine your parents giving you a command, but not justifying it, and proceeding with the turban-tying without your consent. You didn't realize the importance, or significance... and didn't care that your father did it... and that it meant something to him... Imagine the relief, after 15 years of parent-imposed turbanation, having that weight lifted from your head.
My father felt indeed an irony, that after he had such pleasure and relief from removing his crown, as he became free from his family pressures, his own son was requesting the crown and the pressures associated with it. His own son was requesting the crown for different reasons, however, and this agitated him the most.
I wanted the crown for a "test drive" and he never received that chance. I wanted the crown to see if it looked alright - on a young man without his beard and moustache - and if it fit in place. I wanted the crown to see for myself if, once I had it on my head, I was able to sustain the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual weight.
I sat on the night before the wedding, on a chair in the kitchen. My mom looked on anxiously and my dad -- he stood above me and tied the turban; the measure was 4 folds. The turban went around my head approximately 10 times, and with each turn he would create another comment.
"You should work as a granthi at the Gurudwara."
"You're a fundamentalist"
"You should change your last name to [Sikh Militant #1] or [Sikh Militant #2]"
He went on to explain to me that God would not love me any more or less if I tied the crown. He did this all as he was tying it on me, occasionally interupting the lecture with "Look my way! Don't you know how to tie a turban?!"
So the crown was wrapped and I felt weary, as if somebody had given me a uniform while explaining to me why the uniform was a mistake to wear.
As I looked in the mirror, glands in my body suddenly started to react. Within seconds of staring at myself, I had the butterfly feeling in my stomach, accompanied by wet eyes and a shiver down my spine. I had a lump in my throat, and my teeth jittered nervously as some young man was looking back at me - and I didn't recognize him.
With his hair-challenged baby face and annoying personality; with his inflated ego and cement-strength pride; and with the immature and naiive ideologies of a young boy, was he the 18 year old I had looked at in the mirror many times before?
Was the young man in the mirror a Sikh who lived an honest truthful life and worked for the good of all, with no prejudice, a low ego and high expectations?
The morning of the wedding came, and I had risen early in excitement.
And when I arrived with my crown, people started to treat me like it was my wedding. Hugs, money, wellwishes and praise - all to inflate my ego and make me a living oxymoron. My name, in between "Sardar" and "Singh" - I do see it as an oxymoron. Unless you live the life of a human lion, a majestic king, a fearless warrior and a loving poet, how can you accept the crown and the name?
As the money sat in my pocket, my worries sat at the back of my head and I was set. My sister made jokes that she should tie a turban if there was so much profit in it.
I realized later in the day that the point had disappeared. Sure it was a special day, and sure I put on the crown, but how does that make me a Singh?
Now, I'm waiting for a few more days to pass so the inertia can finish and I can decide with my rational brain if I can accept the crown. I realized that accepting the crown is not done to make your grandparents happy, or to cash in on your family's emotions.
If my father thinks of me as a fundamentalist militant by having the crown on my head, then I will have to accept his prejudice and reject his persuasion to back away. Regardless of whether I am making my grandparents happy, or starting a new generation of sardaars, or being a nice conversation topic for the people eating langar after the wedding, accepting the crown as a daily honor is a difficult step that SOON I hope I'll be ready to take.
Accepting the crown is accepting the reality of the world, as it is and as it may become. Accepting the crown is accepting the fact that as soon as that last inch of peculiar feeling cloth is wrapped around your big head, you will step on to that difficult path. That path, which is sharper than a sword. That path, which is thinner than a strand of hair. That path, which is fit for, and fit ONLY for, Singhs and Kaurs.
If you have any advice for me I would really appreciate it.
Thanks very much.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji ki Fateh!!
Dear Kulpreet Singh:
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh!
Congratulations on taking such a big step. Indeed, it takes great courage to wrap a turban daily and go out into this world. You have experienced what all first-time turban wearing Sikhs experience; the exhilaration and the fear and the doubts and the honest pride in taking a step in being Who You Really Are.
You have our support in continuing with this path of turban-wearing Sikh. As you so rightly point out, it is a crown, not just a wrap. When we wear such a crown, we remind ourselves and the world that (1) we cannot be bought; we have no price; our head is God & Guru's alone; and (2) that we are royalty, and therefore we must live up to that. Turban is part of the rehit, and indeed, one wonders how one can keep the rehit and not keep hair and a turban. That said, turban is for many, a first step to rehit, but it does not necessarily commit oneself to taking rehit. So, dear brother, see this as a first step. As a way of testing yourself and your resolve to live the IDENTITY of a Sikh of the Guru. Understand too, that all the congratulations you received by showing up at the wedding in a turban are a reflection of how others feel to see one admit their Identity as a Sikh. Said another way: how do I know you are a Sikh unless I see a crown upon your head? How do I know you are my brother and son of Guru unless yo
u wear your identity outwardly?
There are other posts in this forum on turbans. You can search "turban" for practical aspects to wearing a turban, along with the spiritual aspects.
Guru bless you to live His Identity: