.
The Sikh turban: at once personal and extremely public
Harmeet Singh Soin (Left) and his brother Harkirat Singh Soin (Right) differ on wearing the Sikh turban.
August 8th, 2012
06:03 PM ET

The Sikh turban: at once personal and extremely public

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Harkirat Singh Soin remembers a day in 1999 when, after much contemplation, he finally took a seat in a barber's chair.

All his 18 years, he'd worn long hair, first in a top knot, then in a dastar, or turban. It was an expression of his Sikh faith and a distinct mark of his identity.

As his locks tumbled to the floor, Soin felt ashamed.

He thought of his upbringing in a suburban Milwaukee neighborhood by Punjabi parents who emigrated from India. He grew up on meals of homemade roti and daal makhani and sessions at Sunday school that instilled Sikh values. He thought also of how his mother had taken time to maintain her boys' long hair with love and care.

With every snip of the shears, he felt, he lost not just hair but parts of his being.
But he was tired of not fitting in, of being teased. Once when he was in elementary school, he was even beaten with sticks by neighborhood troublemakers, he says.

"I am guessing that they turned on me because I was different," says Soin, now 32 and studying for his U.S. medical license in Illinois after finishing medical school in China.

He became the first member of his family to shed the most visible signs of his faith. His father and older brother still wear a turban and beard.

He is like thousands of other Sikh men who have abandoned turbans to avoid discrimination or bias. Others simply feel they are old hat and interfere with modern lifestyles.

The turban, tied in distinctive fashion, was a way to manage long hair and serves as the most instant way to recognize a Sikh.

Read the full post on CNN's Belief blog

Posted by
Filed under: How we look • Religion • Who we are
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Micheal

    Ok J, I can't believe you are coapnmiling on getting days off of work. You must REALLY love your job!I love all the holidays. It's like every single month there's a reason to get off work and play. Plus census is only done like once every decade so it's not that bad!And that's why Nigerians don't get that much done....we love to play too much!

    October 13, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |