Mark of royalty, self-respect and pride

  • Rameshinder Singh Sandhu, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: Feb 28, 2015 10:19 IST

One is often told that a Sikh without his flowing hair and turban is like a king without his crown. A couple of years ago, when the members of the community started giving up the most visible symbol of Sikh identity (long hair and the turban), the trend reached the “epidemic” proportions and had the Sikh religious leadership worried. Having said that, as HT City interacted with turbaned youth in the region, we discovered that many of them continue to wear the turban and consider it a sign of their self-respect and pride, be it a Punjabi or a non-Punjabi.

Students of Ludhiana’s Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), who marked ‘Turban Day’ recently, shared their views.

“A turban makes you stand apart from the crowd, adds a special charm to your personality and above all is like a crown which must be worn with sheer respect,” said Arshdeep Singh (22) while Ravinder Singh Panag (21) feels whosoever wears it, sense of responsibility silently gets infused in him. “As turban is a symbol of religion, one should not only restrict it to a fashion trend simply. It is also a matter of behaving in a responsible man as per our holy book,” he said.

Although different in style, turbans are worn not only in Punjab but in various other pockets of the country including Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh to name a few. “The turban styles may be different in every state as per their respective traditions and cultures but those who wear it share similar value and respect for the same, as we do in Punjab,” added Arshdeep.

Talking about the vibrant coloured turbans, Gurpinder Singh Sangha (21) and Gurjot Singh Brar (20) exclaimed that every colour of turban has its own special value and on top of that symbolises something. Take for instance white that refers to peace, black as protest, red or pink as ceremonial and saffron as freedom to address a few.

Adulation towards turbans is high among Punjabi youth settled in various other countries as well. An NRI student from Vancouver, Canada, Himmat Singh Sidhu, said, “Having travelled not only in Canada but also in other parts of the world, I have witnessed that turbans are popular everywhere. A recent example is that of the Kila Raipur Games where many foreign visitors were seen wearing turbans.”

Turban academies on rise

With most youngsters including those belonging from Hindu families are taking pride in wearing turbans, they are eager to learn how to tie a turban in an authentic manner.

A number of professional academies of turban-tying have come up in various parts of the state. Sukhwinder Singh who runs Taran Dastar Sikhlai Centre in Muktsar for the past five years offers many week and month-long courses in this regard. “The number of people visiting my centre has increased manifold in the last two and a half years. Although, many of them already know how to tie a turban, they still like to come to academies to ensure perfection during special occasions,” said Singh.

Manjit Ferozpuria who runs Ferozpuria Dastar Academy in Bhatinda for several years, claims to have recently taught turban-tying to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal’s teenaged son says, “Many of us often get invitations from various Sikh organisations and gurdwaras abroad to be a part of ‘turban-learning camps’. Moreover, it has become a full time profession for many,” he shared.

Inder Mohan Singh, who runs an academy in Patiala under his name, says many Hindu boys come to his academy as they look forward to wearing turban on special occasions nowadays.

Everyone’s favourite: The Patiala Shahi style

When one talks of the most popular turban style in Punjab, many youngsters feel the Patiala Shahi tops the list.
“Be it Amritsar, Jalandhar, Bathinda or any other nook of Punjab, Patiala Shahi has seems to top the chart for the last couple of years. It depicts royalty and tradition at its best for which it draws inspiration from the ‘maharaja culture’ in the state. Many actors can be seen wearing turbans of the same style in Punjabi and well as Bollywood films,” shares Gurpinder Singh Sangha (20).

Even the professionals who own turban academies concede with his views. If we talk about NRI grooms, they prefer to go for Patiala Shahi style as well,” shared Mohan Inder.

Interestingly, school going children are also not behind in learning this royal style with élan. For 14-year-old Paras Singh Sandhu, a Class-9 student from Amritsar, said, “I recently wore a turban in Patiala Shahi style for the maiden time with the help of my friend. I plan to learn this style from a professional turban academy, so that I can tie it on my own on special occasions.”

Turban-tying: An alternative profession

Apart from these academies, many individuals from different walks of life have also taken to turban-tying as a hobby.

In their early thirties, Balwinder Singh Bal and Jagdish Singh, both hockey players from Butala village, near Amritsar, have been training people in wearing turbans for the last three years. “Apart from being players and coaches of hockey at the village sports club and managing agricultural work with our respective families, we make enough money through turban-tying as well,” said Bal. “People from not only our own village but other neighbouring villages come to us to get turbans tied on special occasions or else we go on the location as well, at times,” said Singh adding that they make about Rs 1100 per turban and offer special packages for a larger number.

Similarly, Ravinder Pal Singh (27), owner of Ludhiana Turban Trainers, visits homes also to impart special courses not only in Ludhiana but other villages as well. He shared that there some people do not believe in taking money for tying turbans, in the name of religion, while others charge a small amount. The price range varies from Rs 25 to Rs 2100 per turban. Then there is Jaspinder Singh (26), an advocate in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and the winner of the title of Mr Punjab in 2004, runs his own turban centre, Turban Clinic, in Sector 35, Chandigarh, since 2005. “I impart free training for various turban styles from 4 pm to 5 pm daily,” he said.

Other Popular styles

When one talks of what clothes look best with the turban, most youngsters in the region feel turbans can go well with both traditional attires be it kurta pajyamas as well as contemporary wear including jeans and trousers.

Interestingly, instead of matching the colours, men even like to support contrast combinations, so as to enhance the fashion quotient.

One should never forget his or her roots. When I went to the UK in the early eighties for my career in singing, I was told by many music producers that if I want to attain fame in England, I should cut my hair and be clean shaven. But I turned a deaf ear to their suggestions and continued to sing with the turban and will go on live with turban forever. My turban, in fact, made me feel proud and added charm in my career. Punjabi singer Malkit Singh.

I never thought that I will ever wear a turban as I was clean shaven. However, as I bagged the role of a ‘sardar’ in one of the TV serials in 2012, not only me but also the public fell in love with my new identity. So, I thought why not go ahead with it. Now, I anchor, act and hold make public appearances wearing a turban. It has infused lot of confidence in me and has actually helped me connect to my roots. Punjabi anchor Gurjit Singh.

A fashion statement

Besides wearing bright-coloured turbans, youngsters also ape their idols’ turban-tying styles. Singer Satinder Sartaaj’s style of wearing the turban is quite a favourite among Chandigarh’s younger population. On the other hand, singer Inderjit Nikku’s style was spotted among Amritsar and Gurdaspur’s school-going children. Malwai Pug in Faridkot and Dosanjh style (Singer and actor Diljit Dosanjh fame) are popular across the state, among all age-groups. (With inputs by Sutanter Pal Singh)

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