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April 23, 2008 > Sikh Turban Day ties community together

Sikh Turban Day ties community together

By Sargunjot Kaur
Photos By Sargunjot Kaur and Hardeep Singh Aulakh

Some people do a lot to be noticed; eating exotic foods, attempting crazy life-threatening stunts. However, Sikhs do not have to do anything to be noticed other than stay true to tradition by wearing a turban. The rich culture and diversity found in the Tri-City area was represented by a variety of turbans of different colors and styles worn during the Fifth Annual International Sikh Turban Day celebrated by the Fremont Sikh Gurudwara on Sunday, April 13. The event helps raise awareness of Sikh identity around the world.

"We are the most visible people in the world because of our religion's dress code," said Hardeep Singh Aulakh, the founder of Sikh Children Forum. The turban, or dastar, not only represents solidarity but a commitment to stand out fearlessly against six billion people. It is the sign of a crown that conveys royalty, grace, and distinction. Special guests at Sunday's event included Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman and Union City Mayor Mark Green who sported newly acquired 'crowns' or turbans. "This is the best I have looked all week," said Green.

The Sikh Gurudwara was crowded with visitors from over nine different Bay Area counties and thousands of Sikhs to celebrate Vaisakhi, the day the religion's 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, baptized the Sikh community on April 13, 1699. Now Sikhs make up the fifth largest religion in the world, Sikhism. "The emphasis of identity and diversity helps build common ground and a strong foundation in the community," said Wasserman in his blue turban. Educating people beyond the Sikh community was the intent of this event. People wearing turbans in the United States - especially after Sept. 11, 2001 - were victimized by others who mistakenly connected them with followers of Osama Bin Ladin faction who wore a similar head garment. Sikhs originally emigrated from India and follow a completely separate religion and philosophy.

"There are over 250,000 places of worship around the United States including Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, and Hindu Temples. More and more people believe in religion in the Unites States than any other society," said Wasserman. With many different religions and extensive diversity of people from different backgrounds and cultures, events such as Sikh Turban Day help people understand their community better.

For many youngsters and others, it was the first time they wore a turban. "The complete process of wrapping the turban around the head takes about 15 minutes. Water is sprayed on the starched fabric to make it softer, and the cloth is stretched tightly to make it easier to wrap," said Harpaul Singh Rana at the Sikh Turban Day. "This is one of the first things we do in the morning. It is our identification card," Rana added. Men and women alike wore the turbans as a sign of gender equality in the Sikh religion. "It feels very good and comfortable. Though I have visited the Sikh temple many times, I have never gotten the honor of wearing a turban until today, and it feels great," said Wasserman.

Fremont Sikh Gurudwara
300 Gurudwara Rd., Fremont
(510) 790-0177

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