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hats vs helmets???

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We are all familiar with the ruling on hats for a sikh vis-a-vis the dastaar. What I’d like to have the forum’s opinion is helmets. In the UK (and India I would presume) Sikhs are exempt from wearing crash helmets whilst riding a motorbike or wearing a hard hat whilst on a construction site. We are commonly informed about the Sikh soldiers who in the 1st and 2nd World Wars fought on the front line with only their turbans.

To explain the above, we often have statements indicting that death is nothing to a Sikh, the Helmet indicates one is afraid of death, one shouldn’t have their tuban covered and so on.

What I’d like everyone to consider is the following:-

(1) In the 1999 V&A exhibition on the Sikh Kingdoms a series of ‘Turban Helmets’ from the Sikh Raj period were displayed. These were of intriguing design shaped such that a mound was formed to sit upon the ‘rishi-knot’ of hair (Joora) and worn on top of a keski or small dhumala type turban with chainmail strands around the sides to weigh the helmet down. Were these breaking from Maryada or Rehit?

(2) If the Akali Nihang Singh Bana includes amongst other things, chakras, sheilds and body armour, is it so wrong to have a helmet to protect one’s head if it can be adapted to accommodate a dastar?

(3) Is it really cowardice to wish to protect oneself through the use of armour (such as a Helmet) or simply practical common sense?

(4) When I graduated from University, one of the jobs I did apply for prior to entering my present career was with the Army, one of the reasons I refused to proceed was the requirement should the need arise on the front line to wear a Helmet over one’s ‘Patka’ and for one to trim his beard to allow for a seal-tight fitting of a mask in the event of a biological attack (such as was done in the Gulf War for instance). [Note, this was only on the front line, not otherwise, if anyone is thinking of joining the army, you can wear your kakkars in full and train in your dastaar, so long as there are no live rounds being used] This did get me thinking though, what if this situation did arise (bio attack), what options do we have as full keshdharis if no suitable protective masks are available?

Please forgive any foolish comments in the foregoing,


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i dont think its being afaird of death, i u dont wear it cause it disrespects ur dastaar.

am i wrong?


Gur Fateh Sukh Singh!

I don't think it's so much about being right or wrong as it is practical. Now, I can see the progression from having a Dastaar covered with Chakrs and such like for protection (as well as attack)...evolving into the Turban Helmets that I saw in 1999, however I agree we need to look at the other material more practically.

Is it disrespectful for a man working with welding to tie a keski or small dastaar upon which to place his helmet and visor for protection?

Similarly, is it disrespectful to do the same with a Motorbike Helmet?

I'm simply asking the question for rationale and practical suggestions that'a all...


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Guest Javanmard

SIkh sardar used to wear small helmets with their dastars. see The ARt of the SIkh Kingdom and BN Goswami Piety and Splendour.

the prohibtion of topi refers to the MUslim prayer cap and the Gorakhpanthi hat. helmets do not fall into that category as during the MIsl period they were used by SIKHs.

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Someone should invent a sadar helmet!!!! think of all the little sadars/singhs out there riding there bikes with no protection for there vital brains! There are enough engineers out there!!! AND a helmet is anything but humiliation, its for protection, a safety guide, not to wear a something for safety (like eye wear when doing a chem experiment), unfourtunately there is no helmet for sardars, but maybe one day there will be, and its for protection, and accidents do happen, you can't prevent it....


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It is the case that Sikhs wore helmets during the 19th centory and before. It makes pereftc sense to use whatever protection can be afforded and Sikh warriors from the earliest times certyainly did not make a doctrinal stand on wearing helmets.

We should also be mindful that Sikhs during teh two World Wars were not instructed by teh British Officers to wear helmets and did indeed go into many dangerous situations unprotected. I woudl imagine that hundreds if not more were injured or killed as a result of not wearin helmets. Is this a price worth paying ?

British Sikhs fought hard inthe 1960s to not wear motorcyle helmets even though it is a proven fact that helmets save lives. At soem stage soem young sikh boy will be killed or horribly maimed becasue of a motorcyle accident which woudl have been avoided by the wearing of a helmet. Should this heppen it will reignite the whole debate over rights and responsibilities and I fear that the sikh case for exclusion will be strongly challenged.

IN these circumstances I certainly woudl not want to be supporting a doctrinal case for not wearing helmets infront of a greiving mother !


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Guest Javanmard

I could not agree more with you. wearing a smaller dastar (Namdhari type) and a helmet is compatible. I think the SGPC etc have been totally irresponsible in that campaign and one would be a fool not to see that the helmet campaign had a strong emotional element to it. It was an opportunity to the first generation Sikhs to make a statement about their identity in the UK. Mind you I just think they could have chosen a better cause to do so :wink: anyways I bow down to their dedication!!!

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I dont think that we can blame the SGPC for the UK campaign - certainly their ideals were very strong in the sikhs that lead that campaign. You have to remember taht in the days that the campaign was run the only sikhs who wanted to ride bikes were generally oderl guys who wanted to run scooters or mopeds, and of course you coudl argue that tehe danger is a great deal less than a 250cc Japanese sports bike that are availabel today.


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Dear lil-Princess

I take it you haven't seen that episode of 'Only fools and horses' from years ago, when Delboy invents the turbanator helmet (a crash helmet with a white pagri on top) so that a sardar can keep his identity whilst being safe!

doh, just noticed your in canada

'only fools and horses' is a long running UK comedy about a couple of dodgy goods dealers in london

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  • 3 weeks later...

Copyright 2003 Financial Times Information

All rights reserved

Global News Wire

Copyright 2003 The Economic Times of India, Coleman & Co Ltd

The Economic Times

May 18, 2003

LENGTH: 272 words



LUDHIANA: Reiterating that wearing of helmets by Sikh women was against Sikh maryada, representatives of various panthic organisations, on Saturday, asked the Punjab government to issue a notification exempting them by amending the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) 1988.

The issue was discussed at a gathering of about 15 panthic outfits organised by International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) at Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Sarabha Nagar here. Terming the legal provision as a direct interference in the Sikh religious code, it was unanimously resolved to suggest that the state government should amend the relevant Act and issue a notification exempting Sikh women from donning helmets while riding two-wheelers. They gave a month's time to the government to bring about the amendment.

The Delhi government and Chandigarh administration has already issued notifications in this regard, they observed. The gathering also warned that all Sikh organisations would stage protests at all district headquarters, and Sikh women would violate the provision by driving without helmets, if the government failed to act within a month.

The meeting also appreciated the Akal Takht directive excommunicating Sikh scholar Gurbux Singh Kala Afghana for his anti-Sikh writings and resolved to approach the Takht against others doing the same. Besides, they raised strong objections to the distortion of Sikh history in NCERT books.

Representatives of SGPC, AISAD, SAD, Khalsa Panchayat, factions of All India Sikh Students Federation, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle and Sikh Missionary College attended the meeting.

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if you hits speeds of 100 miles per hour and your wearing a Phag, you aint going to be wearing a Phag when you reach your Manzil, it will be somewhere on the motorway.

Wearing a helmet isnt all that bad. It damn uncormfortable, but not that bad. A phag beats the helmet anyday, but at 100Miles per hours, i rather choose my helmet.

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