Local girl Navjot Kaur won the first “Kaur is Queen” pageant held here on Saturday. The contest was not about sleaze or high cheek bones, but about proving that religious tradition can coexist with modernity.
It was a unique ramp walk, with a purpose to put the relevance of Sikh turban on the centre stage, and to show that even women can carry it in style. The amateur models, all below 18, also had to answer some serious questions from the three-member jury that included news reader Harsharan Kaur, perhaps the first woman news anchor to appear on the television screen in turban.
Questions like “what would be your first step, if you were elected SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president” seemed a bit tough but the young contestants were eager to prove that they were not only beautiful but also brainy. The 10 of them picked after a series of auditions came from different villages of the district.
The contestants’ “gatka’ (Sikh art of mock fighting) skills entertained the audience and put their talent and tough side on display. The multiple rounds brought to the fore not just their physical attractiveness but also their inner beauty. All the contestants were awarded for distinct features and talents but the title belonged to Navjot Kaur.
Harmanpreet Singh, brain behind the event, is a documentary film maker, who in 2007 formed Dashmesh Dastars Registered, Mansa (DDRM), to make Sikh youth aware of their traditions through fashion shows. “Our shows focus not only on dress but also the glaring problems of Punjab. This latest show was our first dedicated to women’s empowerment.
We encourage Sikh youth to keep their ‘dastar’, as wearing turban is an eroding tradition in the community,” he said. He has produced movies based on drug abuse, water scarcity and many other disturbing issues in the region.
The visual medium, he said, is the best way to attract youth in the present times. “There was no talent show targeted at Sikh community, so we filled the gap, with a mission to enlighten the audience that turban is not awkward attire,” said Harmanpreet Singh. His organisation has been involved in social work in the rural hinterland for a couple of years now.
All-India Sikh Student Federation president Karnail Singh Peermohammad and SGPC member Gurpreet Singh Jhabbar attended the event.