What The Turban Means To A Sikh



Rajan Thind’s turban is about five meters of fabric.

By Jack Beckman-Smith

To many in the west, a turban is a mysterious headdress that Muslims and Indians wear.

However, it’s much more than that to the 27 million Sikhs that wear turbans every single day.

Sikhs are a religious minority mainly residing in Northwestern India’s Punjab region. The center of the religion rests in between the historic lands of both Islam and Hinduism—the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

Sikhs have been required to wear turbans since 1699, when the tenth Guru (religious leader) of Sikhism, Gobind Singh Ji, made it mandatory to wear the protective five-meter long headwrap.

The turban, traditionally worn by men, protects a Sikh’s hair, which is forbidden to be cut at any time from birth.

By wearing a turban, Sikhs show their honor towards God by leaving their hair as God intended, and not cutting it for lust nor fashion.

As a result, many Sikhs conceal hair that can grow longer than themselves. For Rajan Thind, a senior at Van Nuys High School, his hair reaches all the way to his waist.

While it may be strict protocol for a Sikh to keep their turbans on in public, that doesn’t mean Sikhs aren’t afraid to take them off in times of need. There are countless cases of Sikhs saving drowning people and animals with their outstretched headcovers, and in 2015, a Sikh man in New Zealand saved a boy from bleeding to death with his turban.

Good deeds like these give motivation to Sikhs to commit to wearing the turban as an act of humility.

As Thind puts it, “The turban tells others that we are different. By having a unique appearance, Sikhs become accountable for their actions.”

He is happy to be upholding the tradition of his ancestors and getting closer to God by practicing his religion faithfully.

Rajan takes great pride in his roots, and says his turban “makes him feel like a king.”

“A king wears a crown once in his life, but Sikhs wear it every day,” he said.