The Turban aka Dastaar

     Sikh man's turban       Sikh woman's turban

My Sikh Sense

Bhai Angad Singh

"The Sikh turban is a piece of cloth. But, consistent with its shape, it is a diamond,
a compression of years of suffering, of tumultuousness, of pressure and change,
and resistance to enforced conformity. We put it all into the turban: hacked limbs,
redcoats, river water, blood lust, eyes gouged, free kitchens, the Spring, and
boundless mercy. It is the manifested soul of a people. In it we openly smuggle
the soul of our people through the fire of history, century after century. It wraps
around despair, boa-like. It's beauty, it's resistance, it's triumph and confidence.
The swagger of a red turban is like walking a tightrope: things can go wrong,
but not for the one to whom the turban belongs. You are never alone wearing
a turban. When you look into the morning mirror, millions look back at you. It
is a crown bought and paid for. It is the outsider on the top of the mountain.
It is a reminder that death can come for one of us but never for all of us."

"Given the positive and growing public awareness about Sikhs,
Sikh women manifestly express their parity with Sikh men when
they wear turban, thereby advocating gender equality. Without
the turban the perception persists that Kaurs are not true Sikhs.
Singhs are perceived to be the genuine, even dominant gender.
Women wearing a turban makes gender equality more apparent.

Sikh women make a powerful statement about gender equality
when they tie turban. It is a graceful and effective way of putting Sikhs
and other communities on notice. It says, "We are who we are in support
of everyone's human rights irrespective of gender." -- DualityOptics.com

"The Sikhs were directed by Guru Gobind Singh to wear a turban.
When a Sikh fails to wear a turban they negate their identity as a Sikh.
Sikh women without turban project subordination to their male counterparts.
The turban is an article of faith that has been made mandatory by the founders
of Sikhism, having immense spiritual as well as temporal significance, increasing
the commitment to Sikhism, making a Sikh a more disciplined and virtuous person.
The turban symbolizes courage and self-respect, dedication, piety and sovereignty. It is
intertwined with their identity. Anyone who expects a Sikh to take off their turban doesn't
understand the Sikh's true psyche, or their attachment to their turban." -- DualityOptics.com

I am a Born Again American, conceived in Liberty.

The Story of Turban Technology

Turbans and Trust


Properly tying the turban enables one to command the sixth center, the Agia Chakra. Covering the head stabilizes the cerebral matter and the twenty-six parts of your magnificent brain, which are interlocked with the neurological system and the electromagnetic field. Covering one's head creates a focus of the functional circuit of the hemispheres, and tunes up the neurological system. The whole head should be covered, not just the Crown Chakra. A head covering that covers the entire head is acceptable; white natural fabric, such as cotton, is ideal. --

See Captain America Videos. See SikhWomenTieTurban.com. See The 'Turbanators'. Also see Turbanators.com. See Why Don't Good Gals Wear Turbans? See The Dastaar (Turban) And Women. See The Turban Is A Crown.


The Turban Is A Crown


The Sikh turban is worn by both men and women. The turban is not just laid or wrapped around the head, it is tied in a special way as to maximize the benefits to the wearer. The turban does not just sit on top of the head, it caresses the skull in such a way as to enhance the powers of the amazing human brain. Properly tying the turban enables one to command the sixth center, the Agia Chakra.

Covering the skull stabilizes cerebral matter and the twenty-six parts of your magnificent brain, which are interlocked with the neurological system and the electromagnetic field. Covering one's head creates a focus of the functional circuit of the hemispheres, and tunes up the neurological system. The whole head is covered, not just the Crown Chakra. Any head covering that covers the entire head is acceptable; white natural fabric, such as cotton, is ideal.

In America, the followers of the Sikh Dharma are the only spiritual group whose practice includes the wearing of turban. Sikhs tie turban as a constant reminder to live life as a student (sikh). In addition to its technical aspects the turban acts serendipitously as an effective sociological filter, i.e., a Bigot Detector. A bigot is a person who is intolerantly devoted to their prejudices or opinions.

Sikhs tie turban (daastar)


This style originated from the Western 3HO Sikh communities in America.
Most Western women who become a Sikh wear a turban (whether or not
they are Amritdhari). Usually it is at least two layers. One layer of white
cotton fabric and then a white chuni material as the final "finished" layer.

See The 'Turbanators'. See The History of The Turban. See Turban Technology. See New Yorkers Celebrate Turban Day. See GoodGuysWearTurbans.com. See Turban Myths. See Glossary of Sikh Terms. See A Sikh Sense of Humor. See Sikh And Ye Shall Find. See Views On Tolerance. See Tribal vs. Tribalism: An Important Distinction. See SAAAP.org. See MySikhSense.com. See Why Don't Sikh Women Tie Turban? See DualityOptics.com. See Dastaar For Sikh Women. See Woman Claims Her My Right To Tie Turban. See Turban Is Bana. See The Turban As A Bigot Detector. See The Essence of Kaur. See ActForDiversity.com.

NOTE: It is NOT a customary practice of the adherents of Sikh Dharma to proselytize. Sikhs often express the term "Sat Kartar," meaning, "God is the Doer." In this sense meaning, only those with such destiny are to be Sikhs.

Americans Celebrate Turban Tying Day

New Yorkers learn to tie turban

Floridians learn to tie turban

A Sikh sense of humor

By Rupinder Singh

. Why do you wear a turban?

While the turban is a common and fashionable item of clothing for many cultures, for Sikhs, it represents our faith. When the Sikh faith was developing from the 15th through 18th centuries in South Asia, the turban was worn only by the higher classes and elites of society. However, a core teaching of the Sikh faith was that all people are equal — there are no high or low among us. As such, it was mandated that all Sikhs initiated into the faith cover our heads with a turban, thereby signifying the equal status among the faith’s followers. Because it’s considered respectful for Sikhs to keep our heads covered when in public and in our religious spaces, the turban provides that function as well. It is a core piece of my identity.

Another identifying article of faith for Sikhs is maintaining uncut hair by both women and men. Sikhs are not to cut hair from any part of our bodies, which is why as a Sikh man I have a long beard and long hair. This is an expression of our acceptance God’s will. My turban becomes the covering for my long hair that I keep in a bun at the top of my head. You see, we were way ahead of the hipster man-bun curve.

. Do women wear turbans, too?

Among Sikhs, the turban has traditionally been worn by men, while women cover their heads with a long scarf called a chunni or dupatta. However, many Sikh women have adopted the turban as their head covering as well.

. But I have a friend who is a Sikh and doesn’t wear a turban. Why not?

Like any group, there is a range of practice. Many followers of the faith don’t wear turbans or keep their hair, but still legitimately follow and identify with the faith.

. Do the colors of the turban mean anything?

There aren’t any religious meanings associated with a given turban color. A person can wear any color turban they like — and even prints! Some colors like orange, blue, and white are traditionally worn during religious celebrations or occasions. Red is traditionally worn during Sikh weddings.

One of my main decision points during my morning routine is to determine what color turban I’m going to wear, and how that will coordinate with my shirt, pants, jacket and shoes. I have more than 20 different turbans, each a different color. I’m particularly proud of the four shades of pink that are quick to brighten up a gloomy day for my coworkers. My color choice is a complicated algorithm that usually results in the wrong choice, but luckily, you all don’t notice or you don’t want to hurt my feelings by pointing it out, bless your hearts.

. Does it go on like a hat?

The turban isn’t a hat per se, and we don’t wear it like a hat. The Sikh turban is a long piece of cotton, typically up to six yards long and one to two yards wide. Your mileage may vary. Mine sure does.

I tend to wear shorter, narrower lengths of fabric, which I re-tie every day. To put it on, I fold the cloth several times (a process called making the pooni) into a single layer that I then wrap concentrically around my head in four layers (or a larh), but more often Sikhs wrap turbans around five or more times. It takes me a precious five or so minutes to tie my turban — precious because I usually run late to wherever I’m going. You can watch a similar process (at your own risk) here.

. How many kinds of turbans are there?

There are several different general styles of turbans that people wear, and within each style there’s a lot of leeway according to their person’s preferences. A dumalla is a larger, rounder turban. There is a smaller round turban tied by some Sikh men. Sikh women who tie turbans tend to wear round ones as well. A parna is a smaller round turban often tied using a thicker printed/checkered cloth.

I tend to tie what’s most commonly referred to as the paghri or pagh, which is more angular in shape (like this one or this one). Within this style, there are regional differences — British Sikhs and African Sikhs tend to wear smaller, sharper turbans (using starched cloth) compared to North American Sikhs, whose turbans are generally softer. Indian Sikhs will often tie larger turbans. Apparently, size matters.

. Where do you get your turbans?

I typically get my turbans from South Asian fabric shops, online turban retailers, or at Sikh festivals. The cost can vary ranging anywhere from $3 to $10 a yard depending on the where I buy from, the type of cotton blend, and any print or design. As for care, many people will hand wash their turbans, though I put mine in the washing machine set on the delicate cycle and hang to dry.

. Were you born with a turban on?

No, and my mom couldn’t be happier about that.

When I was a kid and my hair got long enough, my mother would tie on me (until I could) what is known as a patka — basically, a rectangular cloth tied around my head like a bandana that covered my bun of hair. Most boys will wear a patka until they learn how to tie the full turban, and many will instead have a handkerchief just covering their hair bun on the top of their heads. Young boys will wear a patka or a handkerchief since they’re easy to tie and can stand up to some roughhousing. Sikh men will also often wear a patka when playing sports.

There’s actually a ceremony in which we celebrate when a child ties their first full turban. We call the ceremony dastaar bandi (meaning “turban tying,” coincidentally enough). It’s often characterized as a “coming of age” ceremony, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. I had my ceremony when I was maybe four years old — I was an overachiever back then — but I didn’t start tying my full turban until I reached high school 12 years later.

. Do you wear it to sleep or shower?

Nope. Sikhs are supposed to keep their heads covered when in public. Accordingly, I don’t wear mine when I sleep and not in the shower, especially since it’s not waterproof.

Actually, flowing water can be fatal to a tied turban. We can be rather hydrophobic when it rains. I will say, however, that my turban does make for a convenient pillow during air travel.

. Can I touch your turban?

Well, I’m glad you asked. I don’t know — can you?

Personally, it’s a bit of a sensitive topic. Like many Sikh children, I was bullied quite a bit in school, and my patka was the target of my harassers. Bullies would try to pull it off, or just try to mess with it. This was obviously very humiliating to me as a boy, given the sacred nature of our turbans.

As an adult, I still get asked this from time to time. Because the turban is a religious article of faith, it’s held in sacred esteem by Sikhs. It’s offensive if our turbans are touched or handled without our permission while we’re wearing them. But, if the person asking is respectful and genuine, then I’ll let someone touch it so they can get a sense of it. Play your cards right and I can even tie one on you. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean we have to get engaged or anything.
. And oh yeah, the heat thing.

You would think that tying layers of cloth on your head would be uncomfortable on a hot day, but actually, the turban is a common article of clothing in hot climates. It protects the wearer from exposure and the sun’s rays. So, while it can feel hot wearing a turban, it’s because it is hot. -- Source.

Survey Results
Compiled by Hari Singh Bird Khalsa

Hari Singh Bird Khalsa

Sat Nam! Stanford University’s Peace and Innovation Lab partnered with SALDEF to conduct a national survey of the public perception of the Sikh American community. Key findings of the research include:

. Bias exists against the Sikh American articles of faith, including the turban, beard, and uncut hair.
. 70% of the American public cannot identify a picture of a Sikh man as a Sikh.
. About half of the public associates the turban with Muslims and believes that Sikhism is a sect of Islam.
. Anti-turban bias exists even among people with a greater knowledge of Sikhs.
. The media contributes to and fuels the bias against the Sikh articles of faith.
. Bias is unconscious, charged by emotion, and reinforced by the environment.
. The Sikh American community and experience remain an understudied population.

"Discourse is not meant to stir up feelings of guilt. Discourse is
meant to drive people to action against injustice. Question is
are we mature enough to sit down and discuss issues of
diversity, including race, religion, and gender?"

See Turban Myths. --


In ancient times the Turban preceded the Yamaka and Crown
as the symbol of Spiritual Wisdom, Knowledge and Power.
Transformational gems and metals were placed
inside the Turban, and later the Crown.

The Science and Benefits of Tying the Turban

Here, we see a young man without a turban and beard,
and the same man, as a Sikh, with a turban and beard
Hair is worn in knot on top of the head as seen on the right.

The benefit to tying the turban is that when one wraps the 5 or more layers of cloth, the temples are covered, which minimizes any variance or movement in the different parts of the skull. In other words, wearing a turban automatically provides an acupressure-like cranial adjustment, which provides an aid to brain function and mental activities.

Today, in North America, the only religious group that ties turban, are the Sikhs. The practice of wearing the turban has not only become a rarity in many religions, but to the unversed it is associated only with fanatical and militant world terrorists. Since the horror of September 11, 2001, the Sikhs have been profiled and mistakenly identified as being associated with the fanatical Muslim Taliban of Afghanistan. See Mistaken Identity Video.

In the days following 9-11, the Sikh community around the world became painfully aware that many people have very little knowledge of the Sikh religion. See In The Aftermath of 911. A great deal of confusion existed then, as some American Sikhs were attacked, some were killed, and questions continue to this day regarding the Sikhs and their high profile tradition of maintaining full beard and tying turban.

National Sikh Campaign 2014 Survey of Americans
Question: What is your impression upon seeing these people?

See How To Tie Turban. See TurbanGuideHandout.pdf. See Sikh Style Turbans. See About The Sikhs. See Hair. See Beards. See If Your Dad Doesn't Have A Beard.

Heritage of The Turban

Since the 19th century in North America the only religious group identified with the wearing of turban is the Sikhs. To American Sikhs as well as Sikhs the world over, the tying of turban is a sacred act. The tenth and last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), partly as an act of defiance in the face of the fanaticism and tyranny of the Mughal ruler of India at the time, Aurangzeb, instructed the Sikhs, just as Moses instructed the Israelites, to wear their God-given, unshorn hair under a Turban. Sikhs have sacrificed their lives to protect its honor ever since. The following is a collection of references on how the turban has been regarded throughout history.

Sikh Woman       Sikh Man

Turban in the Old Testament

One of several Bible references ... "Once they enter the gates of the court, they are to wear linen vestments. They shall wear linen miter (turban), and linen drawers on their loins." (Old Testament: Ezekiel 44:18-19)

The name "turban" is found in this form in European languages only: Greek--turban, English--turban, turbaned; French--turban, tulband; German--turban; Italian, Spanish and Portugese--turbante; Dutch--tulbans; Romanian--tulipan; in Latin, it is the miter; and it is generally traced to the Persian sarband. In Turkish, sarik is the usual name for turban. In ancient Egyptian civilization the turban was considered an ornamental headdress. They called it pjr from which perhaps is derived the word pagari or pugree, so commonly used in the Punjab of India.

The Egyptians removed the turban at the time of mourning, a custom which prevailed in the Punjab up to the end of the 19th century. The Sikh apostle, Bhai Gurdas Ji humorously narrates an incident in his Vars, that when an elderly Punjabi came to his home with his turban accidentally off, the women folk took it to be a sign of mourning and started weeping and wailing although no one was dead. The old man's turban, off his head, gave a false alarm.

The Spiritual Technology of the Turban
Source: SikhDharma.org

From the time of the first Sikh Master, Guru Nanak, wearing a turban was part of the unique spiritual path that would become Sikh Dharma. Guru Nanak, himself, wore a turban and asked his students to do so as well. For thousands of years, in many different spiritual traditions, the turban served a unique and universal purpose. It assisted a person to experience, integrate and maintain their highest consciousness throughout the day.

How does the turban work? The top of the head, the place where babies have their "soft spot," is called the tenth gate. In yogic terms, it is also known as the crown chakra. Thousands of years ago, yogis and spiritual seekers discovered that the hair on the top of the head protects the tenth gate from sun and exposure. In addition, the hair acts as antennae, channeling the energy and life-force of the sun into the body and brain.

To amplify the effect, spiritual seekers would coil or knot their hair at the tenth gate -- also called the solar center of the head. In men, the solar center is on top of the head at the front (anterior fontanel). Women have two solar centers: one is at the center of the crown chakra, the other is on top of the head towards the back (posterior fontanel). For men and women, coiling or knotting the hair at the solar centers focuses the energy and helps retain a spiritual vibration throughout the day.

This hair knot (known as the joora) is traditionally called the "rishi" knot. In ancient times, a Rishi was someone who had the capacity to control the flow of energy and prana in the body. A "maharishi" was someone who could regulate the flow of energy in the body, meditatively and at will. The rishi knot assists in the channeling of energy in meditation (Naam Simran). If one cuts off the hair, there can be no rishi knot. By giving us the rishi knot and the turban, the Sikh Masters shared a very ancient technology for how an ordinary person can develop the capacity of a Rishi.

The next step after tying a rishi knot is to put on a turban. The turban covers the coiled, uncut hair. The pressure of the multiple wraps keeps the 26 bones of the head in place and activates pressure points on the forehead that keep a person calm and relaxed. Turbans cover the temples, which is said to help protect a person from the mental or psychic negativity of other people. The pressure of the turban also changes the pattern of blood flow to the brain. When you tie up your hair and wrap the turban around it, all the parts of your skull are pulled together and supported. You feel clarity and readiness for the day and for what may come to you from the Unknown.

The Divine Energy that governs the Universe and guides our own life is mostly unknown to us. Living with an awareness of that Divine Energy within oneself and the entire creation allows us to live our highest potential. Wearing the turban helps us experience that Divine Energy and to remember there is something greater than what we know. It is a spiritual practice where we take the highest, most visible part of ourselves and show that it belongs to the Creator. Wearing the turban also helps cultivate a sense of surrender to the Divine.

The turban is the Guru's gift to us. It is how we crown ourselves as people of Universal Consciousness who sit on the throne of commitment to our own higher Self. For men and women alike, this projective identity conveys royalty, grace, and uniqueness. It is a signal to others that we live in the image of Infinity and are dedicated to serving all. The turban represents complete commitment. For more information on how to tie a turban click here.

The Turban
Dignity and Sovereignty

The turban became a requirement for the Sikhs on Baisakhi Day of 1699. The Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, after giving Amrit to the Five Beloved Ones, gave us bana, the distinctive dress that includes the turban. It is helpful to understand the historical context of his action. See Baisakhi Day Videos.

During Guru Gobind Singh's time, the turban, or "dastar," as it is called in Persian, carried a totally different connotation from a European hat. The turban represented respectability and was a sign of nobility and royalty. At that time, a Mughal aristocrat or a Hindu Rajput could be distinguished by his turban. The Hindu Rajputs were the only Hindus allowed to wear ornate turbans, carry weapons and keep their mustache and beard. Also at this time, only the Rajputs could have Singh ("lion") or Kaur ("princess") as their second name. Even the Gurus did not have Singh as part of their name, until the Tenth Guru himself took that name.

The followers of the Sikh faith did not have the means to display aristocratic attire, nor were they allowed to, even if they did have the means. (Doing so was usually equivalent to a death sentence.) It was in this context that Guru Gobind Singh decided to turn the tables on the ruling aristocracy by commanding every Sikh to carry a sword, take up the name Singh or Kaur, and have kesh (hair) and turban displayed boldly, without any fear. This effectively made his followers see themselves on a par with the Mughal rulers. See The Turban Is A Crown.

It is said that in Sikh Dharma, there are no slaves, and there are no masters. It is a discipline that allows each person to live to their highest excellence, and the Sikh community is one of equals. The bana (dress) of a Sikh who has taken Amrit is the visible manifestation of the belief that each person is sovereign, noble, dignified and divine. and that no human being is higher or lower than any other human being. --

Americans In The Aftermath of 9-11
A Background Report on Post 9-11 Discrimination

Vandalism at the Sikh gurdwara in Fresno, CA.
Photo courtesy of Christian Parley, The Fresno Bee.

Immediately after September 11, 2001, an epidemic of hate crimes against minorities swept the US. The wave of hate crimes and hate violence affected Muslim Americans and anyone perceived to be Muslim: Sikh, Arab, South Asian, Latino, and other brown-skinned Americans. Incidents occurred in every part of the public sphere: houses, workplaces, airports, school grounds, and street corners, in nearly every major city in the United States. In targeted communities, temples were burned, homes vandalized, families threatened, jobs denied, children bullied, women harassed, men and boys beaten and murdered.*

Sikh men with turbans and beards have been most affected by post 9-11 hate crimes. This backlash violence has been primarily directed at those perceived to resemble the enemy -- a turbaned and bearded Osama bin Laden, the leader of the radical Al-Qaeda. But the people who wear turbans in the United States are Sikhs, members of the world’s fifth largest religion who trace their heritage to the Punjab region of India.

On September 15, 2001 in Mesa, Arizona, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh man, became the first person murdered in the hate epidemic. Out of the estimated nineteen people murdered in the immediate aftermath, four were turbaned Sikh men. See the 'Dream in Doubt' video.

Rana Singh holds a photo, left, and stands, right, at the Arizona
911 memorial to his slain 49 year old brother, Balbir Singh Sodhi.

Many hate crimes and incidents have gone unreported.

The federal government officially reported a 1700% increase in ‘anti-Muslim’ hate crimes, from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001. This only includes crimes both reported to and recorded by police departments. Community and civil rights organizations have reported thousands of hate incidents in the year following 9-11, including at least nineteen murders. See All About Sikhs From the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Hate crimes are only the tip of the iceberg.

Violent hate crimes are the most obvious manifestation of a wide range of racism and prejudiced behavior, including verbal harassment, threats, staring, and avoidance. Qualitative research documents subtle forms of discrimination that do not appear in police statements or newspaper reports -- Sikhs, Muslims, and South Asians treated as perpetually foreign, alien, laughable or un-American. Millions of Sikh, Muslim, and Arab Americans have experienced subtle or overt forms of the post 9-11 hate epidemic.

Hate crimes and incidents have profoundly negative effects on targeted communities. In a recent Harvard study, 83% of Sikh Americans, reported that they or someone they knew personally experienced a hate crime or incident, and 64% expressed fear of danger to themselves and their families. Many members of the Sikh American community face deep-seated feelings of fear, insecurity, and disorientation. Others indicate bitterness or anger. Still others channel their frustration into positive, hopeful responses. It is clear that the hate epidemic has dramatically altered the social and psychological well-being of Sikh Americans and other minority groups. See Words for Today.

State-sponsored discriminatory treatment of Sikhs, Muslims, Arabs, immigrants, and non-citizens is ongoing. “Private violence” is carried out by citizens, “public violence” by the United States government.

Soon after the immediate outbreak of private violence, our government began to allow greater provisions for racial profiling in both immigration enforcement and domestic security programs. While these provisions were meant to protect our national security, they have violated and further alienated groups who fall into designated categories. These groups include turbaned Sikhs who have consistently experienced public violence in the form of employment discrimination, immigration enforcement, targeted security searches, or prisoner abuse. See Gurdwara Security.

The hate epidemic persists today.

Many believe that these hate crimes disappeared after the initial 9-11 aftermath. However, spikes in hate violence in the United States correspond with terrorism abroad as well as critical moments in the U.S. war in Iraq. At the onset of the war in Iraq, three turbaned Sikh cab drivers were shot in the San Francisco Bay Area alone. Due to inconsistent classification and tracking procedures at local, state, and federal levels, there is no way to provide exact statistics for present-day hate crimes. While the number of hate crimes has not returned to levels reported in the aftermath of 9-11, qualitative research confirms that Sikh, Muslim, and Arab Americans continue to experience subtle yet damaging forms of discrimination in both private and public realms. See MSNBC reporting of the March 2011 murder of Sikh man in California. --

*Sources available upon request at: info@dwf-film.com. See 'Divided We Fall' film.

Turbans From Around The World

In North America, Sikhs are the only religious group that wear turbans. Sikh men and women wear a cotton turban that serves as a meditation aid that is related to acupressure meridians, and to cover their long and unshorn hair, which is never cut out of a deep respect for God's creation of the human body. Some Sikh men comb out their facial hair and then twist and tuck it up into their turban along with the hair from their head. Sikh Style Turbans    Beards

Sikhism originated in northern India and Pakistan in the 15th century and is one of the youngest of the world's monotheistic religions. There are an estimated 20 million Sikhs in the world, with some 2 million spread throughout North America, Western Europe, and the former British colonies. The Sikhs have been an established spiritual community in the United States for more than 150 years, since before the 1850's.

Sikh Woman       Sikh Man

Muslim religious elders from Yemen, often wear a turban wrapped around a cap known in Arabic as a kalansuwa. These caps can be spherical or conical, colorful or solid white, and their styles vary widely from region to region. Likewise, the color of the turban wrapped around the kalansuwa varies. White is thought by some Muslims to be the holiest turban color, based on legends that the prophet Mohammed wore a white turban. Not all Muslims wear turbans. In fact, few wear them in the West, and in major cosmopolitan centers around the Muslim world, turbans are seen by some as passé.

Afghan men wear a variety of turbans, and even within the Taliban, the strict Islamic government that controls much of the country, there are differences in the way men cover their heads. For example, he may wear a very long turban … perhaps two twined together … with one end hanging loose over his shoulder. The Taliban ambassador to Afghanistan, on the other hand, favors a solid black turban tied above his forehead. And some men in Afghanistan do not wear turbans at all, but rather a distinctive Afghan hat.

Muslim Cleric       Afghan Man

Iranian leaders wear black or white turbans wrapped in the flat, circular style as is the case of the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Greek word turban is thought to have originated in biblical times. The turban is called a sarband, or a dulband among Persians and in some areas of Iran.

Indian men sometimes wear turbans to signify their class, caste, profession or religious affiliation … and turbans in India can be very elaborate. However, turbans made out of fancy woven cloths and festooned with jewels are not unique to India. As far away as Turkey, men have used the head gear to demonstrate their wealth and power.

Iranian Cleric       Indian Aristocrat

The kaffiyeh is not technically a turban. It is really a rectangular piece of cloth, folded diagonally and then draped over the head … not wound like a turban. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, has made the kaffiyeh famous in recent times. However, the kaffiyeh is not solely Palestinian. Men in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Persian Gulf states wear kaffiyehs in colors and styles that are particular to their region. Jordanians, for example, wear a red and white kaffiyeh, while Palestinians wear a black and white one. And a man from Saudi Arabia would likely drape his kaffiyeh differently than a man from Jordan. The black cord that holds the kaffiyeh on one's head is called an ekal.

Desert peoples of Africa and elsewhere have long used the turban to keep sand out of their faces. Members of nomadic tribes have also used turbans and white kaffiyeh, while Palestinians wear a black to disguise themselves. And sometimes, the color of a person's turban can be used to identify his tribal affiliation from a distance across the dunes. In some parts of North Africa many men wear a turban of a very light blue color.

Yasser Arafat    Nigerian Tribesman     Saudi Man

The Seattle Times
Understanding Turbans

"Don't link turbans to terrorism."

Don't link turbans to terrorism. America is not a country where the majority of people wrap their skulls in cloth before heading out of the house. Perhaps that explains the current confusion over turbans.

In many regions of the globe, swaddling the head in fabric is simply a natural response to the scorching heat and dust. Scholars believe it was an ancient people living under a merciless sun who first invented the turban.

Like other types of clothing, the turban means different things depending on who is wearing it and how it is worn. But in the wake of recent terrorist attacks, the turban, originally a practical idea for protection, has become a symbol many Americans associate with terrorists.

In SeaTac last week, a man was charged with attacking a turban-wearing Sikh cab driver, calling him a "butcher terrorist." In Seattle, a man was arrested after he allegedly tried to choke a Sikh, telling him, "You have no right to attack our country." In Arizona, a man shot a Sikh gas-station owner to death, later explaining to authorities: "I'm a patriot." (See MSNBC reporting of the March 2011 murder of Sikh man in California. See Murder of Six Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, August 5, 2012.)

Hundreds of other assaults on Sikhs have been reported across the country, a trend that strikes many as bizarrely misguided.

Yes, Sikhs wear turbans. But they have no connection to the Islamic extremists now wanted by the U.S..

Rather, Sikhs are members of the world's fifth-largest religion, which traces its roots to northern India and espouses egalitarianism.

President Bush described the new American enemy as shadowy and hard to find, which may explain why some Americans are grasping for a way to identify terrorists. But equating the ancient headgear with terrorism shows how little is known about turbans.

Lesson No. 1: All turbans are not the same. Fabric head wraps and head coverings are common in a wide swath of the world, from North Africa across the Middle East and into Central Asia. At times, turbans have even been found on the heads of fashion-conscious Europeans and atop the craniums of American pop-culture icons.

Like other types of clothing, the turban means different things depending on who is wearing it and how it is worn. To see every turban-wearer as a terrorist is like assuming every person who wears shoes is a criminal.

A turban is a very long and narrow piece of cloth (12 feet is not an unusual length) made of cotton, silk or synthetics. It is wound around the head and held on by its own tension, gravity, or a chin strap.

The English word turban is believed to have come from the Persian word dulband, a word which is also thought to be the etymological predecessor of "tulip" and of the Spanish word for hammerhead shark, torbandalo.

Though no one knows exactly when and where the turban originated, carvings left by the Assyrians, who lived 3,000 years ago in the area that is now Iraq, show turbans on the heads of kings. That means that before there was Islam, or even Christianity, there were turbans.

It also means that by 1000 BCE, the turban had evolved from a strictly utilitarian piece of clothing into something used to connote nobility and power. The turban is like other pieces of fashion in this way, said Brannon Wheeler, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Washington.

Just as shoes evolved from a practical foot covering into an item of clothing that reveals a person's class and origins, so turbans evolved from a simple head covering into something that identifies people along cultural, religious, political and social lines.

Those seem to be distinctions many are unaware of. John Cooksey, a Republican congressman from Louisiana, recently offered this suggestion for weeding out terrorists: "If I see someone come in and he's got a diaper on his head, and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over and checked."

Cooksey later apologized, saying he was referring only to Osama bin Laden, but clearly the way he described the offending headgear shows a lack of turban savvy. In the picture of bin Laden posted on the FBI's Most Wanted list, the fugitive Saudi millionaire is wearing a white cloth turban wrapped in a circular, spiraling fashion.

This is not the type of head covering that requires what Cooksey called a "fan belt", a thick black cord known to people in the Middle East as an ekal. The ekal is used to hold on a kaffiyeh, the patterned head covering made famous by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Kaffiyehs are worn by men in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Persian Gulf states. They are rectangular pieces of cloth folded diagonally and draped over the head. And technically, they're not even turbans.

The American tendency to link turbans with terrorism may stem from the Iran hostage crisis, with its images of Ayatollah Khomeni and his black turban. But in most of the Muslim world, the wearing of a turban symbolizes simply religious or political power.

Many Muslim spiritual leaders wear a white turban wrapped around a spherical or conical hat known as a kalansuwa. But, cautioned UW history professor Frank Conlon, "Not all Muslims wear turbans, and not all people who wear turbans are Muslim."

In the past, emperors and leaders have worn grand turbans with feathers and jewels added as flourishes. Today, in rural regions from North Africa to India, poor farmers and nomadic people of various religions cover their heads with simple turbans, the colors and styles of which sometimes identify them as members of a particular tribe or community.

And turbans have uses beyond the obvious. In Morocco, old men have been known to store money in the folds of their turbans. In the desert, turbans are wrapped around the face and used as a protective gauze to keep blowing sand out of the eyes. Before there were police and handcuffs, legend has it that turbans were used to tie up captured enemies.

These days, in more cosmopolitan and urban areas of the Middle East, the turban is a bit out of vogue, seen as a relic of the past by young people clamoring for the styles of the West.

At the same time, in the US, the turban has been embraced among some African Americans, who see it as an Afro centric fashion. Soul singer Erykah Badu, for example, has often worn a towering turban.

The irony of the American focus on turbans in the wake of the terrorist attacks is that, at least in this country, turbans are a very poor predictor of a person's involvement in terrorist violence.

"Needless to say," said Ellis Goldberg, head of the Middle East studies center at the UW, "none of the hijackers was wearing any type of turban."

Eli Sanders

Sikh Woman
First turbaned airline pilot in America

Arpinder Kaur

The Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) reported today that Arpinder Kaur, 28, of San Antonio, Texas has become the first turbaned pilot hired by a commercial airline in the States. As a Sikh, she has helped pave the way for both Sikh men and women who wear a turban or dastaar to fulfill their passion for flying. No longer does flying just have to be an extra-curricular activity for these Sikhs, but it can also be an every-day job!

In March 2008, after resolving the issue of wearing her dastaar on-the-job, with the help of the Sikh Coalition, Arpinder Kaur was officially hired by American Airlines Corporation (AMR) as a First Officer. She filed her grievance for accommodation of her religious article of faith based on American Airlines’ allowance of “regulation approved hats". An agreement was reached that is consistent with state and federal anti-discrimination law. In June 2008 she finished her pilot training program and is now flying Embraer Jets for American Eagle, a regional airline that is part of AMR based out of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

When Arpinder Kaur was asked why she chose to do this, she said:

“Two of the reasons I did this were: first, my love of flying and, second, to set a precedent for the community so they know you can be in your Sikh appearance and do anything out there; so that my younger brothers and sisters, the rising generation, will pursue their passions while practicing their Sikh faith.”

Her passion for flying first started when at the age of 15 she got to sit in the cockpit of an airplane when moving from Panjab. Despite having a degree in Information Systems and her mother’s belief that it was too dangerous for a girl to be a pilot, Kaur has chosen to follow her passion, while using it as a means for supporting her family.

Kaur said it was the love and support of her husband, Pritpal Singh that pushed her forward on the path toward becoming a pilot. Kulbir Singh Sandhu, captain with AMR mentored her throughout her aviation career. From 2003 to 2005 Kaur was trained by Jesse Sherwood in Kansas. With the help of these individuals and others along with her own perseverance and determination, Kaur and American Airlines have shown that accommodation and not assimilation is the way to harness the strength of diversity in America.

Harinder Singh, executive director of the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) in San Antonio, Texas said, “This is a great day for the Sikhs in America. Religious accommodation, not assimilation, is what the founders of this great nation envisioned and we are thrilled American Airlines celebrates the rich religious and cultural diversity of all American populations." See Arpinder's short film. --

"From a woman all men are born.
How then can any man degrade any woman?"

The Sikhs

The 12 Aspirations of the Sikhs are to:

Believe God is Truth and Word is Guru.

Believe God is the One Creator, and all of Creation is God's manifestation.

Espouse the role of woman as representing the Universal Mother.

Maintain their hair and beard unshorn as God's gifts, and wrap their hair in a turban.

Refrain from eating flesh food, i.e., red meat, chicken or seafood.

Refrain from using tobacco, drugs or alcohol.

Perform sadhana,** i.e., spiritual practice before sunrise, and recite banis daily.^

Believe all religion and scripture is an expression of the One Creator.

Respect the rights and freedoms of all spiritual paths.

Espouse the sanctity of the path of the householder.

Maintain 'Chardee Kala' (an exalted and positive attitude towards life and other people).

Believe it is God's blessing to serve others, and to protect the weak and innocent.

Special Note: It is not the customary practice of the followers of Sikh Dharma to proselytize others. Sikhs often express the term "Sat Kartar," i.e., "God is the Doer." In this sense meaning, only those with such destiny will become Sikhs.

**Sadhana is a word derived from the Sanskrit words Sa, meaning all, and Dhana, meaning blessings.

"The problem at this moment is the majority of us do not want to do sadhana (spiritual practice). These unfortunate people are really cursed. With all the teachings and all the knowledge, isn't it a curse? It is. Sometimes you use the children as an excuse, sometimes the husband. One way or the other, there is an excuse. To be realistic with you, an excuse is an excuse, and sadhana is sadhana. I know on some days, I am dead tired. I feel I can't do my sadhana. Then what do I do? I go to the bathroom, I take cold water, and I wash my face again and again, and again and again, until I understand that I am fully awake. When I am doing my sadhana, sleep sometimes wants to overtake me; I get tired. Sometimes I get home late and I have to get up very early. Then I do pranayam and I apply some yogic locks. I do a lot of things that I have learned and I go through it as gracefully as a humble human being should." -- Yogi Bhajan

"The greatest reward of doing Sadhana is that the person becomes incapable of being defeated. Sadhana is a self-victory, and it is a victory over time and space. Getting up in the morning is a victory over time, and doing it (sadhana) is a victory over space." -- Yogi Bhajan

^Banis are specific passages taken from the Guru and read each day.

Good guys and gals wear turbans

Sikhs around the world is next.


Pages, Photos And Points To Ponder

Science and Practice of Meditation and its Benefits

I am a Born Again American, conceived in Liberty

Sing Along With These Born Again Americans

All About Sikhs From the U.S. Dept. of Justice

The 1974 Transition of Bhai Sahib Dyal Singh

See Why Sikhs Keep Their Hair Unshorn

See What Happens When You Meditate

To The First Teachers of Sikh Dharma

Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru

If Your Dad Doesn't Have A Beard

History of Sikhs In America Video

Lessons Learned From The Sikhs

The New York Times About Sikhs

Americans Get An 'F' In Religion

Life According To Yogi Bhajan

Hymns of Guru Gobind Singh

Mai Bhago Kaur - Sant Sipahi

The Grace of God Meditation

Ma Bhagavati...in Memoriam

The Physiology of The Word

Women: Wimps or Warriors

Women: The First Teachers

Sikh Women Wear Turbans

Ways To Tie A Sikh Turban

I Do Not Eat Dead Animals

Good Guys Wear Turbans

The 12 Signs of Kali Yuga

What Does Sat Nam Mean

Hymns of Guru Ram Das

Sikhs Around The World

Hear Music of The Sikhs

Men And Women of War

Chotskies and Chakras

Siri Guru Granth Sahib

All About Sikh Dharma

Sikh And Ye Shall Find

Religions of The World

Meditation For Women

Sikhs And The Turban

Who Is Guru Ram Das

The Sikhs As Warriors

All About Sikh Women

America The Beautiful

Mantra Pronunciation

Khalsa Martial Artists

Sikhs And The Beard

How To Tie A Turban

The Siri Singh Sahib

Songs of The Sikhs

Who Are The Sikhs

The 9-11 Backlash

3HO Legacy Links

Gurdwara Security

Science of Mantra

The Akal Takhat

Bigot Detector

Sikh Anthem

Punjab News

Sikh Women

3HO History

India News

About Hair

You are IT

Sikh Sites








Sikh Coalition

Sikh Council on Religion and Education

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund



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