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“Importance of turban in Sikhism”
Kanwaljeet Singh5/29/2018 10:40:29 PM
Leadership, Sovereignty and Equality by Turban is not a theory but a proven fact in Sikhism. From the Mughal India to the battle grounds of Europe, Sikhs fought with their Turbans. During both the world wars, Sikhs refused to wear any tin helmets for protection. During War they often used to show bullet marks on their turbans and Say- 'Look My Turban Is Safer Then Your Helmets'. Such was their Faith that they carried all their Articles of faith on the battlefield and the marching contingent of the British Sikh Regiment was always lead by a Sikh carrying Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj. A Sikh turban is a symbol of equality, sovereignty and Miri-Piri (Temporal and Spiritual) aspects of Sikhism.
Unfortunately, today we have forgotten the historical significance of Turban in Sikh religion and because of their distinct identity, Sikhs are facing discrimination in many countries. The Sikh turban has a long history of bravery, sacrifice and valor. For a Sikh, turban is not a piece of cloth but his/her second skin. For a Sikh, a turban is his or her crown which the person wears every morning with a commitment to the almighty that he/she will stand for justice and equality.
In Sikh history, the origin of turban goes back to Mughal India. Sikh faith was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 15th century. It was a time in India, where people were forced to religious divisions and superstitions. Guru Nanak Dev Ji's faith was 'IK ONKAR' i.e 'God Is One' and everyone is equal in the court of lord. God isn't interested in our religious labels whether we are Hindu Or Muslim but in how we live and what are our actions. As it is written in Guru Granth Sahib Ji - "Ek Noor Te Sab Jag Upjaya, Kaun Bhaley Kau Mandey" (SGGS- ANG 1350) - From the one light, the entire universe welled up. So who is good, and who is bad?
All his life, Guru Nanak Dev Ji kept Kesh (Hair) and wore a turban as a symbol of spirituality and holiness, as it's a way to surrender to God's will and force of nature. Since all Guru's Wore turbans, but it was after 200 years of Guru Nanak Dev Ji that it became an established part of Sikh identity. It was under the leadership of tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji that turban was introduced for all Sikhs not just as a symbol of holiness but also as a Symbol of Sovereignty, Equality, Sacrifice and Bravery.
At the start of 17th century, the quality of life of an average individual in India was very poor and there were suppression, religious conversions and persecution by the Mughal Empire. Any religious ceremony, riding a horse and even wearing the turban was banned by the Mughal Empire. One was to first accept Islam and then only one could wear a turban. Disobeying was usually equivalent to death sentence. It was the same time when father of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadhur Ji was executed at Chandni Chowk Delhi, by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
Guru Tegh Bahadhur Ji stood up for the religious rights of Kashmiri Pandits under the face of forced conversions to Islam. It is believed that from this tragic incident, the Sikh turban was born. After executing Guru Tegh Bahadhur Ji, Mughals taunted the crowd to come out and claim their Guru's Body. People standing in Chandni Chowk were too scared to come forward as they lacked sovereignty, courage and a unique identity. Guru Gobind Singh Ji was determined at an early age that in future, Sikhs will be sovereign and will always be recognized for their principles. It is then when Guru Gobind Singh Ji recognized his political mission as - "Inn Gareeb Sikhan Ko Dio Patashahi" meaning that 'I shall bestow royalty on my Sikhs'. So, on Baiskahi day in 1699 at Anandpur Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh Ji founded the Khalsa Panth and replaced their servile topis (Caps) with the kingly turban and blessed them with a sword of honour.
He created a type of superman; a universal man of God who was casteless, liberal and country less. The institution of Khalsa was based on equality which means 'No Master, No Slave' and the turban since then became the identity of a Sikh.
A Turban Has Many Symbolic Meaning and Significance in Sikh History.
1. It's a way to stand out
The Unique Bana (comprising of 5Ks) and the turban is a way to stand out from the crowd. You can easily spot a Sikh from a crowd of thousands and ask for help. Guru Gobind Singh Ji wanted his Sikhs to be sovereign rather than a slave and wanted them to stand out against tyranny and oppression of the Mughal Empire. So, the turban along with the sword empowers a Khalsa to live as a free sovereign individual who is on the path to accomplish the mission of "Degh Tegh Fateh" (Victory to charity and arms) i.e Freedom and Food For All.
In India, Sikhs are often called as "SARDARS" regardless of their social status. Sardar means chief who stands for equality and justice. A Guru's Sikh since then has stood out with valor and courage. Battle of Chamkaur between Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Mughal forces is considered to be one of the greateat acts of bravery, Where 40 Sikhs fought with a Mughal army of over 10 lakh. Later in the history, the Battle of Saragarhi of 1897 is still termed as one of the greatest last stands, where 21 Sikh Soldiers of Indian British Sikh Regiment stood up against 10000 Afghanis. .
They fought for 10 long hours and died with honour. People still refer to Khalsa Nihangs as one of the brave warriors who rescued women in the past from the caravans of Abdali and Ghazni. The Afghani rulers, used to capture women from Indian local villages in order to sell them into the slave markets. A Kirpan, as one of the five principles has been bestowed upon by the Guru, to defend other people rights. After 1947, Sikh soldiers with their turbans have been part of the Indian Army.
2. Turban is a symbol of equality.
Sikhism believes in egalitarian society in which all are equal with 1's light within and is free of gender, religion, race, nationality or sexual orientation. Guru Amar Das Ji, the third Guru of Sikhs had appointed 52 women preachers as women were given equal rights and seen as spiritual partners. The sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji built a mosque for poor Muslims living in the city. Also, one of the revered shrines of Sikhs, The Golden Temple, has four entrances which signify that people from all traditions are welcome and one must descend with humility. Also free food or langar is one of the basic principles of Sikhism. In langar (Community kitchen) all sit in a line without any distinction of caste or class to eat food, cooked and served by persons of any caste.
Even when Mughal Emperor Akbar went to Goindwal Sahib to meet Guru Amar Daas Ji, the Guru instructed him to have langar first. Sikhism Believes in "Pehle Pangat Pachhe Sangat" (Guru Ram Daas Ji) i.e first eat together irrespective of your caste or social status and then sit together in the court of Lord. Guru Gobind Singh Ji wanted his Khalsa to believe in equality. Guru Gobind Singh Ji even regraded himself as the servant of the Khalsa - "Aape Gur Chela" (No Master No Slave).
It was in this context that Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked his Khalsa to embrace Sikh turban as a symbol of equality. No matter which class or caste you belong to, after having Kesh (hair) and wearing a turban you become equal as Singh's and Kaur's. Following the Sikh principles, Maharajah Ranjit Singh never wore a crown on his turban for the reason that for a Sikh his turban is His/Her crown irrespective of his/her social status.
3. Turban is a symbol of spirituality
Sikhism gives the message of oneness and love - 'IK ONKAR' - One Creator, One Human Race and Connect to the one through the tenth gate (Dasam Dwar) also called as 7th Chakra in Hindu religion. A Khalsa is a saint soldier. In yogic times, the spiritual Yogii Guru's discovered that the hair on the top of the head protects the 10th gate or 7th Chakra from Sun and exposure. Also, the knot or Joora helps in channelizing the energy during Naam-Simran. By giving rishi knot and turban for protection, our Gurus bestowed us with the ancient technology for how an ordinary person can develop the capacity of a Rishi.
4. Turban is a symbol of sacrifice
The turban in Sikhism has a long history of sacrifices, bravery and courage. Guru Gobind Singh Ji sacrificed his entire family for the sake of humanity. Guru Gobind Singh Ji's father was beheaded in Chandni Chowk Delhi for standing up for the religious rights of Kashmiri Pandits, the two elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji attained martyrdom while fighting the mighty Mughal army in the Battle of Chamkaur. The two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji- Sahibzaada Zorawar Singh Ji And Sahibzaade Fateh Singh Ji Aged 5 and 9 years were tortured and bricked alive by Mughal Governor of Srihind, Wazir Khan. Today, we carry our turbans with Pride just because of these immense sacrifices made in the past. As it is written in Gurbani- "Soora So Pehchaniye, Jo Ladhe Din ke Haeth, Purja Purja Kat mare, Kab Hun Na Chade Khet" (SGGS, ANG-1105).
It means- "He Alone Is Known As A Spiritual Hero, Who Fights In Defense Of Religion. He May Be Cut Apart, Piece By Piece, But He Never Leaves The Field Of Battle".
5. Turban is a way to shed superficiality
Everyone these days is more concerned about how we look from outside rather than our inner-self. That's the reason humanity seems lost these days. But our Guru's have given us an identity by which wearing a turban and carrying Kesh (Hair) we surrender to the will of God. We are not concerned about outer beauty but are free to look inside our soul where true God resides.
Even after 350 years of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Sikhs continue to follow Guru's principles as written in "The Sikh Reht Maryada"- The code of conduct for Sikhs. In one of the Maryada, there is a clear direction to the Sikhs- "Kangha Dono Waqt Kar, Paag Chuneh Kar Baandh" i.e "Comb Your Unshorn Hair Twice a Day And Tie Your Turban Neatly".
For a Sikh, turban is a sign of nobility and royalty. Because of this great legacy, within sixty years of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's demise, the Sikh Khalsa Raaj was established under Maharajah Ranjit Singh, who is often referred to as Napoleon of the East. The Raaj under Maharajah Ranjit Singh Ji was based on Sikh principles of equality and Justice. There were no religious conversions and a population comprising of 71% Muslims, 15% Hindu and 12% Sikhs lived in Prosperity.
Sikhs fought for India's freedom struggle and were even jailed to Kaala Pani in Andaman and Nicobar. At that time the turban was their identity. But today, even after so much contribution towards Society and humanity, Sikhs are facing discrimination because of their turban. The recent Turban ban in France where even children are not allowed to wear turban in French schools has upset the entire Sikh community. A total of 83005 Sikhs were killed and 109045 wounded fighting for the allied forces during WW1 and WW2.
Sikhs have fought wars wearing their Turban; Is peace more dangerous than wars. Also the recent news of Sikh Canadian Minister of innovation, science and economic development, Navdeep Bains, who was asked to remove his turban while a security check at Detroit Airport despite passing through the metal detector without any problem have come as a shock to many. And list of such cases of Discrimination is long.
Today in many countries, Sikhs right to wear a Turban is not protected under law. A Turban is an integral part of Sikh religion which has a long history of sacrifices. As someone rightly said: My turban makes me feel, that I can conquer the world. I was wearing a Turban when I sat in The House of Lords in London, I was wearing a Turban when I was sitting on the chair of the Prime Minister, I was wearing a Turban When I headed the Planning Commission, I was wearing a Turban when I was the Chief Justice Of India, I was wearing a Turban When I Commanded the Second largest Army Of The world, I was wearing a turban while I was fighting on the Battlefield of Siachan, I was wearing a Turban when I lead the Countrys First Airpast in 1947, I was wearing a Turban when I was fighting for World Peace in both the World Wars, I was wearing a Turban when I shook hands with the American President, I was wearing a Turban when I became a judge of the Canadian Supreme Court. So, A Turban is my identity, it's my crown and it says to the world that I'm Sovereign- I'm A Sikh.
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