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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

British lensmen to showcase ‘IDENTITY’ of Sikh men

Neetika Walter and Vancouverdesi.com, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh , June 26, 2014
First Published: 10:10 IST(26/6/2014) | Last Updated: 11:06 IST(26/6/2014)

What is more exciting and fascinating than to celebrate your own identity and the idea of being yourself ?

Two British photographers are putting up a unique exhibition to showcase the diversity in styles of the Sikh beard and turban in modern Britain. Once the idea struck them, the photographers — Amit Amin and Naroop Singh Jhooti — posted the campaign, ‘The Singh Project’, on Kickstarter, a funding platform for projects,, a month ago. The project is a collection of 35 photographs on how Sikh men in Britain don a turban and beard.

When asked how they came up with the idea, Naroop said, “It came from the popularity of a beard in mainstream culture and fashion. Suddenly having a beard was regarded as being cool and gave the wearer a sense of being individualistic. As British Sikh photographers we wanted to use our skills to show the public that Sikh men have been wearing beards as an integral part of their identity for hundreds of years.”

The next logical step was to go on a “Singh hunt” and the duo found subjects through family, friends and local temples. “Each time there was a different person with a different outfit from a different part of the country with a different profession,” Amit said. The response that the campaign generated surprised even the photographers. With only three days left for the campaign, the duo has already crossed their goal of netting £7,000 (about US $12,000) and collected around £9,521 so far. The duo has now set another goal “to further expand the presence and potential of ‘The Singh Project’”.

 Spurred by the overwhelming response, they have announced the ‘Singh Exhibition’ would open in late summer. “We weren’t expecting to raise the money within half the allocated time on Kickstarter. In this economic climate it’s hard to raise funds. Yet people have parted with their money so generously. It feels great that people like our work, support the cause and want to see these images exhibited,” said an elated Naroop.

 When asked about the project’s impact, Naroop said, “We’ve never put as much time into a project as we’ve put into this one. Initially some people were skeptical about the idea and its appeal. Considering it has gained such attention, it fills us with great pride that we followed our gut instinct and did what we felt was right. It has further enhanced our belief that people are interested in topics like this, irrespective of their faith.”

“It was great to see these men come into our studio with their new cool look. Their identity was so strong it reinforced our belief in our faith and made these images so personal to us,” he added.

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