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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
04:48 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.

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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 from fear of incidents like the shootings this week at the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. Others simply feel they are old hat and interfere with modern lifestyles.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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

Sikh men have worn turbans since 1699, when the last living guru bestowed a unique Sikh identity based on five articles of faith. Among them were a steel bracelet signifying a reality with no beginning or end; a sword representing resolve and justice; and unshorn hair as a gift of God and a declaration of humility.

In India, Sikhism's birthplace, the turban was first abandoned in large numbers in anti-Sikh riots that erupted after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984, says Manjit Singh, a leader of a Sikh nationalist political party in New Delhi.

Explainer: Who are Sikhs and what do they believe?

Even more Sikhs unraveled their turbans for good after the September 11 attacks in the United States. They felt vulnerable after some Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims and targeted by revenge-seeking zealots.

Just four days after the Twin Towers collapsed, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, was shot five times and killed by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque. Roque was later found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. On appeal, his sentence was reduced to life in prison.

In the years following, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents against Sikhs.

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That was certainly cause for concern in the Soin family.

They displayed an American flag and bumper stickers on the family car that said: "Proud to be American" and "Sikh American."

"It was to show people that we are with you," Harkirat Soin says. "We are not who you think we are."

"We are not radical Muslims."

Soin's younger brother Manmeet stopped wearing a turban six years ago. Older brother Harmeet still wears his and has not been spared the sting of ignorance.

Harmeet Soin says he has been called "Osama" on the streets. And when he travels for his banking job, he gets called out at airport security every time, he says, even though he is a frequent flyer and has executive status with various airlines.

10 years after Sikh murder over 9/11, community continues to blend in and stand out

He says he, too, wanted to cut his hair when he was in school. But his father sat him down and asked: Is that the answer to your problem? Will you no longer be different then?

He realized then that the turban was as much his identity as his skin color.

"I am very proud of looking different," he says. "I am proud of my identity."

Harmeet Soin says he was disappointed when his brother first cut his hair and took off the turban. But he understands that Harkarit is an adult who has to be comfortable with the choices he makes.

The turban is a decided mark of difference for which Sikhs may have paid a heavy price last Sunday when gunman Wade Michael Page began shooting his way through a gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship, in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee.

Police have yet to define a motive, but in the Sikh community, the fear is that they were targeted by someone who knew little about their beliefs.

Lehigh University English professor Amardeep Singh wrote on his blog this week that the turban amplifies the hostility felt by some.

"The turban that Sikh men wear is the embodiment of a kind of difference or otherness that can provoke some Americans to react quite viscerally," Singh wrote. "I increasingly feel that visible marks of religious difference are lightning rods for this hostility in ways that don't depend on accurate recognition.

"I am not sure why the reaction can be so visceral - perhaps because wearing a turban is at once so intimate and personal and so public? Walking around waving, say, an Iranian flag probably wouldn't provoke quite the same reaction. A flag is abstract - a turban, as something worn on the body, is much more concrete and it therefore poses a more palpable (more personal?) symbol for angry young men looking for someone to target. Whether or not that target was actually the "right one" was besides the point for the Oak Creek shooter."

Harkarit Soin says his family knew one of the victims well. Satwant Singh Kaleka, who served as president of the gurdwara, had presided over prayers and rituals at Soin's sister's wedding.

"Why are we being targeted?" Soin says. "Despite educating people, it seems nothing has changed since 9/11."

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As the community stands in solidarity after tragedy, Harkarit Soin says he is considering wrapping a turban again.

"I think this was my vanity," he says about cutting his hair. "I wanted to conform. But why should I be ashamed of whom I am? We are a hardworking community. And we have been through a lot."

Soin is proud to be an American, he says. Proud to be Sikh - and of an identity marked by a turban.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Race • Sikh

soundoff (814 Responses)
  1. jas

    no muslim wear turbans in america..its all in where ever there hometown is. just cann't beleive but we have go through. Hopefully something good will come from this sacrifice.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  2. Karl from Wash DC

    All the good things the Sikhs learned from Muslims ...all the bad from Hindus. But they deserve Khalistan to say the least

    August 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Crystalclear008

      HaHaHAHa!!!! What good thing did they leran from Muslims and what bad thing thing did they leran from Muslims??? BTW SIkhs are born out of Hinduism not because they hated Hindu because in those days there was a need to have warrior clans to fight against the invading Muslims and preserve their heritage. Every Hindu family offered their first born son as a warrior and they were called SIKH such is the story behind the birth of SIKHISM.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Crystalclear008

    I have several SIKH freinds some with Turban and some one without Turban. IT is a sensitive issue and a personal choice. If you are a SIKH and you choose not to sport a Turban it does not make you a bad person or the God will dislike you for that. I had a fellow student who for many frades worea turban and then one day in Seventh grads he was all clean shaved. He was comfortable with himself and he was the same person with or wothout the turban. Every religion has progressed in some degree so if a SIKH chooses not to wear a turban please don't make it an issue. We love you and respect you with or without your turban. I love your sense of humour the most.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  4. SurelyUjest

    As long as a person becomes a citizen, knows the language, knows our laws he/she should be able to dress any way they want that does not break the law. If a person is a visitor, an argument could be made "when in rome..." but still vistors have legal responsibilities spelled out on their visa's as to following our laws. None of our laws prohibit peaceful religion, turbans, burka's etc........it is we under educated White American's who are shallow minded and ignorant that seem to be the group that inflicts the most damage with our guns to large groups and specific groups.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  5. guest

    "Religion is the opium of the masses". How does keeping your hair long and wrapped up, or wear a hat, or put ashes in your forehead honor god(s)? Not that long ago, we were sacrificing people and animals.... maybe one day we'll learn that God does not want all this stuff, is God exists, and he is all-loving, wouldn't he want us to strive to be like him? We don't need all these ridiculous, old-time, traditions, we just need to be good people.

    One Love

    August 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • kaur

      how do you honor God? By living in his will and loving him and not being judgmental of his people. So stop being judgmental!To honour God , is to honour his creation and see the divine light in all , rather than holding prejudices against people who do things differently.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Whitehawk

      But all people have a right to believe in God or not and to receive/use any adornment upon their body as long as that right does not infringe upon the rights of others or does not pose a danger to the public at large, i.e., facial veils must not cover the face for photo identifications.

      You have the absolute right not to believe in a religion as much as we have to believe in our religion. Respect is a two way street.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Kim

      I am a sikh, the founder of our religion was a philospher (Guru Nanak Devi Ji). He questioned everything and said do not follow blind rituals just be a good person. The turban was part of the 5 Ks and came together later in the religion. Guru Nanak Dev Ji said ' if you want to be a Hindu/Muslim/ Christian, be a Hindu/Muslim/ Christian, but be a good Hindu/Muslim/ Christian. All in all, be a good person! As a sikh, i feel the turban does not bring value to a person being a good person, plenty of people wear then and are not good people, and vice versa. BTW i cut my hair, but my father has a turban and he feels different. I think people should blend in where they live. I am canadian and i dont like seeing people walking around in non western clothes, simply because you chose to move here, dress like you want to be here. Just my 2 cents, hope i did not offend anyone!

      August 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • John Kim

      You also have to realize alot of these things are deeply rooted in culture as well. So as much as it may appear to be religious, it is also has a great deal to do with the culture of the people and land.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  6. opinion

    Another, I wanted to add is how many times does our president need to go over stop bullying. This is just like getting bulled. Wade basically did this so he can give them message to leave USA. Holmes is stressed so he decides to kill people. I mean if you have issues with your life, don't be weak. Fix them. Moreover, people like Holmes and Wade inspire other common people to do stupid things. Your stress, grab a gun and go people in movie theater. Someone hits usa with 9/11, hurt US citizin who are from that muslim country however, they have been working for US for 25 years. Where is the justice in that? Yes, James is in jail and Wade is dead. What difference did that make? They both still did what they want. It is really frustrating to see that in US such things happen where there is so much diversity. People leave their country and love one to come here because they were told that US can give them better life. I am sure none of them would have came here if they knew things like can happen. I am not saying other countries are perfect but no one except so much hate from people these days. Just because your life isn't the way you want doesn't mean you shot people

    August 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  7. Jonathan

    Everyyyy religion has got their "hats" as George Carlin once sad. Ha ha

    August 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  8. frootyme

    If you can't be proud of what you are, then you have a problem!

    August 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  9. JPC

    Simply incredibly sad that our society ends up spawning this level of intolerance, bigotry, and violence. Wearing a turban is no different than a Christian wearing a crucifix. Our country is strong because we are respectful of all ideals and beliefs. Acts like this have no place in our society.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • bill constantine

      When in Rome, dress as the Romans do. We have radicals all over the world. You see it today all over. As long as you are dressed different you stand out and some nut will come after you for one reason or an othen. I look for a Sicks person to come out in the future and shoot his own people or outsiders because he thinks different..this is going to happen..I for one like the turban on a person...looks good..Religion is a cancer for us human beings. Expect more shootings in the future in the name of religion or being different in a wrong country.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  10. i12bphil

    I knew something about Sikh's, but not enough. I'm Christian and support the right for all religions to freely practice their religion in this country and also to not have a faith if people so choose. I am grateful to have learned more about the Sikh religion today and they have my full support. I will make sure to educate other people as well so these wonderful people get the respect they deserve.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      So far the best post I have seen here all day!! Good on you mate!

      August 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  11. ME II

    Everyone has the right to dress how they want, within reason (e.g. legality, safety, etc.).

    Just out of curiosity though, I wonder how uncut hair and the requisite turbans reconcile with, what I understand to be, one of the Sikh prohibitions, namely the the prohibition against "blind spirituality"?

    August 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • ME II

      p.s. A prohibition against blind spirituality sounds like one of the best rules a religion could come up with, after prohibiting itself that is.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • kaur

      I am very surprised how you can equate between the two. Hair is a living part of human body. We treat it like any other part of our body...You don't go on cutting parts ,right?Its a beautiful gift given to us by God and we cherish it. We like to live in the Will of God. We are happy with the way God made the human form, its perfect the way it is . The long hair of a Sikh is tied up in a Rishi knot (Joora) over the solar center (top of the head), and is covered with a turban, (The man’s solar center is nearer the front of the head. The woman's solar center is further back.) A female Sikh may also wear a chuni ).

      August 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • ME II

      @kaur,
      Thank you for the explanation, it is appreciated.
      Although, I would point out that hair is not actually living, it is keratinized dead cells, similar to nails, which are also frequently cut off.
      It just seems to me that for a religion that appears to dislike rote rituals, a thing I applaud by the way, they do seem to have several themselves.
      No disrespect intended, it just seemed a bit contradictory, to me. I support your rights to do, and dress, as you please.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • MissouriBoy

      Prohibition against blind spirituality just means you should constantly question your religion, to ensure that you reaffirm your beliefs. Most Jews also strongly believe in constantly questioning their faith. The only religions that don't do this are the hard core Christian right, the Muslim extremist, and those that take their book of faith literally. You know someone is not very religious when they have a bumper sticker that says "The bible says it, I believe it, that settles it". A totally closed mind. Questioning your faith or your religious book makes you stronger, not less faithful.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • kaur

      @ ME-

      Little bit of science here. Read it so that you value your hair more!!By the way, hair as a whole aren't dead, the follicle is living and the shaft isn't and they have a lot of functions.You keep removing, they keep growing 🙂
      Hair is a filamentous biomaterial, that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Hair is one of the defining characteristics of mammals, but is also found in other animals. Hair growth begins inside the hair follicle. The "living" portion of the hair is found in the follicle.The base of the root is called the bulb, which contains the cells that produce the hair shaft.Other structures of the hair follicle include the oil producing sebaceous gland which lubricates the hair and the erector pili muscles, which are responsible for causing hairs to stand up. In humans, with little body hair, the effect results in goose bumps.
      Functions-
      warmth-
      the hair found on the head serves as primary sources of heat insulation and cooling (when sweat evaporates from soaked hair) as well as protection from ultra-violet radiation exposure. the hair on the human body does help to keep the internal temperature regulated. When the body is too cold, the arrector pili muscles found attached to hair follicles stand up, causing the hair in these follicles to do the same. These hairs then form a heat-trapping layer above the epidermis.

      protection-much of the hair on the human body is suited to protect it. This natural armor cannot directly protect humans from potential predators, but it does help to keep the sense organs, such as the eyes, working properly.

      Touch sense

      Movements of hair shafts are detected by nerve receptors within the skin and by hair follicle receptors through displacement and vibration of hair shafts. Hairs can sense movements of air as well as touch by physical objects and are especially sensitive to the presence of insects. Some hairs, such as eyelashes, are especially sensitive to the presence of potentially harmful matter.
      it is essential to understand that mammalian body hair is not merely an aesthetic characteristic; it protects the skin from wounds, bites, heat, cold, and UV radiation

      August 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • ME II

      @kaur,
      "Little bit of science here. Read it so that you value your hair more..."
      Thank you for the primer on hair, as I indicated, the part that is cut off is not alive, similar to nails, which I as.sume Sikhs cut off.

      Yes, there are many of aspects / functions to hair, temperature, scent, touch, etc., however if those were the primary reasons for not cutting one's hair then I would think that wrapping it up in a turban would be a bit counterproductive.

      Peace

      August 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • singh

      @ME- picking up bits and pieces isn't always a good thing. Kaur said the primary reason sikhs don't cut there hair is because we believe in God's ability to create the perfect human form and we abide by His will. The fact that hair keeps growing again and again speaks for itself .The body unfailingly replaces that hair each time it is shaven or cut off. There is something in the body’s DNA that simply will not allow the body to go on for long without its full complement of hair.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • ME II

      @singh,
      A valid point. The one about my not understanding the whole picture, not the point about a "full complement of hair".

      I did not originally intend to debate the finer points of hair, however I do think I got an answer to my question about "ritual" versus "blind spirituality".

      Thank you both.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • insight

      MEII
      It's like explaining to someone who eats meat , why being vegetarian is good! ME II you cut your hair, we don't care! So, why do you care that we keep ours!!!! I don't know why these two people were genuinely trying to make a person understand about their belief, a person who delibirately doesn't want to understand. Well, you stick to your belief and we stick to ours, but we neverthless see the same God in everyone.There is the same light that's in you , in us, in all of us. We don't distinguish people based on their appearances. That's what our Gurus taught us.We let people live and not call them ugly things like professing 'blind spirituality' or hypocrites'. Have you ever been to India, to Punjab, to the land from where they come from? Have you bothered reading about their history? Have you bothered going to a local Gurudwara so that you may meet a few practising Sikhs , so that you have a better insight. No, you haven't, cause you don't care and you shouldn't care . Just stop saying ignorant things without any indepth knowledge.

      August 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  12. jim

    How is this different from the garb of Orthodox Jews? Or even the yarmulke? Or the Amish/Mennonites? All religious/ethnic groups who dress differently are attacked and ostracized in American society. America is not, and never has been, the land of freedom. It is the epitome of capitalism, free-market, Darwinistic practices. If the ignorant would bother learning, they would soon know that Sikhism is a tolerant faith based on charity and hard work. But in America, bigotry is tolerated in the name of 'freedom.'

    August 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  13. opinion

    Okay There is a real big difference between being Sikh punjabi and Muslim. People really need to educate themselves before calling names to others. We live in very demand technology world. Take a time to google Sikhism and Muslim. Learn the difference and you'll feel ashamed of yourself that you even called someone a terroist. Also, just because you are muslim ..it doesn't make you terroist. Jame Holmes and Wade killed innocent people. Do Sikh and Muslim people call every white person James Holmes and Wade? No, they don't. so, why don't you stop bothering them?

    August 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  14. ShingoEX

    Conforming and bowing to intolerance and bigotry only reinforces intolerance and bigotry.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  15. Bill Maher Nails It

      
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAvDtPz33w0&w=640&h=360]

    August 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  16. AGuest9

    I know several Sikhs who wear baseball caps while at work, then turbans at home or gurdwara.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  17. SurelyUjest

    There is one poster here "Nate Higgers" who I think should be banned from blogging and actually have all of his right to bear arms and his right to vote revoked. I believe this can be supported legal by our definition of sanity, or our anti-hate laws, or our societal and local laws protecting us and himself from endagerment and threats upon society. Im just saying I am all for free speach but this person is making threats and accusations that frankly do not belong in civilized society and civil discourse. CNN you need to take action for the sake of all Americans posting here. He is an insult to our country our laws and our beliefs.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      As are Christians.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • ME II

      "anti-hate laws"

      I don't think "hate" is illegal. Actions against specific groups or inciting those actions can be defined as "hate crimes," but I don't think the "hate" itself can be.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      @ME II – Then our anti-terroristic threat laws, Im almost certain a voice like this only serves to divide and enrage our society. It is not a logical, nor educated, it may be an opinion but with all the sprinkled terroistic comments this guy has made, I am surprised the FBI is not checking up on him already.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      I have every right to hate anyone, as long as I do not harm or threaten anyone in the process. Thank you very much.
      One day, human beings will wake up, and cast out all of these naggers that are literally destroying our country, cities, children, and culture. Until then, people such as myself are needed to keep these worthless naggers in their place.
      Get a gun, get a carry-conceal permit. When these feral primitive naggers chimp out, shoot to kill.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      The only good nagger, is a dead nagger. Never forget.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Nate Higgers

      That's the best part about naggers, their incredible and utter lack of common sense or intellect. They run around now, like they own our country, thinking they can do as they please. They make it easy for you to kill them, legally. Lock and load. Defend yourselves, your families, your neighbors.
      The less naggers in any given area, the better off any and all human beings in said are will be, and not one single person alive today can logically dispute this fact.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • ME II

      There are also laws against "incitement" that may apply.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  18. lovUSA

    I am a born Indian and personally like the guys in turban, they look very smart and unique in turban and earn respect naturally in india.
    I remember two of my chidlhood schoolmates who used to wear turban since we were at playschool but removed it and cut his hairs when we reached college, not sure about them but I personally felt very sad about it.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  19. amrit anand

    Proud Sikhs wear Turban and keep the God given face. If you cant keep the "sabat Soorat" you are weak and will get pounced on in life and will not be able to handle any kind of stress.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Brian

      While I think they should be able to wear the turban without the fear of discrimination, your bigotry is no better than that of the people who discriminate against them for wearing the turban. it is their choice just as it is your choice to continue wearing the turban. By saying they are weak for making the choice they did shows you are as intolerant as any other religious zealot.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  20. therealbartonfunk

    I fully respect the Sikh's rights and in the end it's up to each individual to do what they feel comfortable doing. However, I wonder what the reason is for wearing a turban specifically. I understand that Sikh men would believe in keeping their hair uncut, combed and covered. But, could a Sikh not do that an wear a different hair covering than a turban? I would think that they turban is more specifically tied to the region, as opposed to being specifically religious. The religious needs of Sikhs could be met by having another hair covering that might be seen as "modern" and more fitting with whatever regious that individual live in. Again, this is more of a question as opposed to me trying to force my ideas on a person. The turban is fine with me, but I'm just thinking as far as having people "assimilate" more but also be fully compliant with their religion.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @therealbartonfunk

      There are several reasons as to why they wear turbans... but the real issue is not about being more 'modern'... why should they ?

      This is part of their cultural/religious heritage.

      Peace...

      August 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • VS

      You make a fair point. Young sikh boys and some adults males wear a bandanna like cloth to cover their hair (called a patka or dastaar). It is allowed in Sikh Gurudwaras (temples) around the world. Sikh temples also usually have colorful bandanna like square cloths available at the entrance to allow anyone with uncovered hair to cover their hair before entering.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Moiraesfate

      That's my whole point. There isn't really a reason to wear one. If its to tie their hair back, there are better ways. And wearing one seems to be completely optional. It's just tradition. Tradition changes over time. And frankly there are lots of reasons not to wear one including they are complicated to put on, turbans can fall off compared to a simple elastic band, they must be very hot to wear especially given that alot of heat dissipates from the body off the head, andit doesn't protect the eyes from the sun, it's not something that must be worn for any physical or religious reason. They are supposed to wear long hair but the turban just seems like a way to keep their hair up and tradition. There's also the fact that a bomb can be hidden in that hat easily due to the amount of space inside so it presents a hazard to others in the same way a burka does.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Again, Moira, why should you wear a hat? You can carry an umbrella to keep the sun off your face. No one needs a reason to wear something if he/she wishes, and whether or not you deem it uncomfortable, impractical, or silly, you're not being forced to wear it or look at it. What is your problem?

      August 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Moiraesfate

      Tom, hats are more convenient. And I don't wear hats. Ever. I think they are uncomfortable and dumb. I do occasionally wear a handkerchief over my hair but only because it keeps the stray hairs off my face better than an elastic band. So what is your point? Yet again, you have none. You don HAVE to wear a turban just like any other hat. There are other options.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Moiraesfate

      And btw, there are other options within their own religion that would still honor their religious traditions for their hair. They don't need to wear a turbin any more than the Muslims need to wear a burka.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's TURBAN, Mo. And no one is saying that one HAS to wear it; what they are saying is that they believe it is what they should do and it is what they WISH to do. Who are you to tell them that they should do otherwise?

      You don't have a say in it. It's not your body or your life. Mind your own damn business.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Moiraesfate

      No. I find their turban and the burka to be a danger to others because they can hide explosives easily. Deal with it. The burka is worse but not infinitely worse. I don't want to die because someone was able to hide explosives in their religious gear.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Ellery Singh

      In the grand scheme of things I am new to the Sikh faith. I have been a practicing keshdhari Sikh (different from amritdhari Sikhs only in the fact that I have not taken amrit) for 5 years now. It is my understanding that the dastaar (turban) served/serves multiple purposes. One, yes it is used to help keep our long uncut hair neat and tidy. So your question of using something else to cover the head makes since. However, the second reason, and more important I think, the dastaar (turban) was used by rulers in the subcontinent to signify authority and power. So when Guru Gobind Singh Ji, our 10th and last human guru, created the Khalsa he made the dastaar a recognizable symbol for them and all Sikhs to show that they too, as every person, are their own sovereign. It showed that every person is on an equal level as someone who has the authoritative position of a king, etc. Lastly, it served/serves as a beacon for anyone and everyone to know that this is a Sikh, a member of the Khalsa, a protector of all people against injustice. So while you make a good point with your questions, there is so much more meaning behind the wearing of a dastaar then just to cover your head and keep the hair neat and clean. I hope that I have helped to answer your question. I am more than willing to answer any others that you may have.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Ellery Singh

      Thank you for clarifying the issues. I hope that @Moiraesfate pays attention.

      Peace...

      August 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Moira, you are ridiculous. Do you oppose allowing people to have backpacks? Handbags? Briefcases? Explosives could as easily be hidden in these. A woman could wear one against her belly and cover it with a cushion and she'd simply appear to be pregnant. A man could (and did) put one in a shoe. A man could (and did) put one in his underwear.

      You are making an excuse for your prejudice and it's quite transparent. Grow up.

      August 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.