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Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh !!

This post is dedicated to all those Sikhs who have and contine to maintain their Kesh and Dastaar with pride regardless of any obstacle.

One of the many challenges that face Sikhs is the hostility many of us face on a daily basis towards our turbans.

Sikh parents face the challenge of nuturing and protecting their children from the sometimes very violent reaction our turbans and kesh receive at schools.

Sikh children face very real and difficult problems at school - which impact on their self esteem and quality of life. Sikh Parents need to be aware of the challenges children with Kesh face at school and take proactive steps to 'arm' their children with the skills to combat these challenges, and to build their self esteem so they can wear their Kesh and turbans with pride.

I grew up in the England of the 1970s - and went to a Church of England School - I was the only Singh and the teachers didn't really know how to deal with me - so treated me no different from the other children - which I liked. We had daily religious assembly, I was in the choir and we used to sing hymns in the local church. I still know all the words to many hymns when they are shown on 'Songs of Praise' - our school song was John Bunyan's - 'He who valiant be'.

My parents were very aware of the need to equip me with the required 'Sikhi skills' - and always made an effort to buy me books and sent me to learn Punjabi on Saturdays in the neighbouring town.

Going to a Church School and being the only Singh probably made me more aware of being a Sikh than if I didn't. At School we had a Religious Education teacher - Mrs Miller - who would teach us Bible stories and parables - I would always give these stories a 'Sikh' twist in my own 7 year old head - feeding of the 5000 was 'Sacha sauda' - The 'Good Samaritan' was Sajjan Thug and perhaps the strangest - Joan of Arc and the life of Saint Alban - particular favourites of Mrs Miller - were Banda Bahadur and the Great Shaheeds of the 18th century !!

In other words my parents made a special effort - which made a huge difference to me.

The issue of Kesh looms large in all the lives of Sikh children.

At school I had all the usual questions - 'are you a girl' - 'why do you wear that?' - 'Bobble head' - 'Mr Topsy Turvy' - 'How long is your hair' - etc etc

People calling me all sorts of names etc. - but mostly just curiousity - having to explain only strengthened my Sikhi.

It was when I went to High School that I had problems. I started to wear a Dastar at age 11 and was again the only Singh at a large All Boys School.

I am a real believer in proactive action and very soon every one knew if you touched my turban you got a punch in the face. However the older boys were a harder problem.

I lived throught violent times - a Neo Nazi renaissance - Skinheads, Football hooliganism and Psychobillies were all a big trend and there was open racial hostility.

I could deal with the verbal abuse - even when large crowds of very intimidating older boys would shout at me or sing Football Chants like - 'Where did you get that hat ?' or 'If you want to wear a turban clap your hands' - but if anyone came near my turban I used my fists.

The Skinheads and I locked horns - They would attempt to punch my turban off my head - I had daily fights and would come home and secretly wash the blood stains off my uniform - so as not to worry my parents.

My parents instilled Sikhi Spirit in me - we were told off if ever we put turban material or Chunees on the floor , we were taught of the sacrifices made so we could wear our Turbans. My Mother especially gave me the strength to be different and wear my Dastar with pride.

I always said to myself - I will not let the dastar, given to me by Guru Gobind Singh, fall on the ground.

I would face the punches - and give as many back, even though I was only 11 and they were a lot older. This lasted a good few weeks - one time having a full fist fight after school we were caught and stopped by a tearcher. He happened to be my Maths Teacher - he was one of those good teachers - a laugh but you didn't mess with him.

You have to remember this was a different time and many teachers were openly hostile themselves or were not very sympathetic. This particular teacher was different - he used to call me 'Samson' - He said to me why didn't you say you were getting this sort of harrassment. After that it was all sorted out. You have to remember this was a different time - a time of corporal punishment and authoritarian teachers - the Cane and 'slipper' were used regularly in our school - every teacher had a size 12 slipper in their desk.

The skinheads were 'sorted out' by my maths teacher - they were all caned infront of me - in those days if you got on the wrong side of a teacher he could make your life hell -- I never had a problem again.

Now this is my story - it was not very typical - some children faced and face enormous problems - you hear of horror stories of kids in remote places like the Mid West of USA.

Parents need to equip kids with the skills to pre empt the problems and how to deal with them. It is harder said than done - I didn't tell anyone, parents or teachers - but it is vital that children tell a trusted person about what is happening to them.

Try not to let things get too far - I sorted out my peers by making them aware my turban was not to be touched - don't let even the little things slide - make people aware.

One thing parents can do is make kids aware their Kesh may be a target.

Make sure they can look after it - many parents 'baby' their kids , you see many kids even teenagers who cannot tie their turbans or their Kesh. Kids should know how to tie up their hair , so they do not 'Freak out' if it does come undone.

I think we should all share our experiences and any stragegies we have to cope with hostile behaviour at school - How did you cope ? etc. -- all this will help our youngsters.

I don't wear my experiences on my sleeve - I think they made me who I am - because I was 'allowed' to sort them out myself - they made me strong and resilient.

In fact my sister told me a funny story quite recently , that I didn't know - She said at her school (a nearby Girls school) I was seen as among the hardest/ toughest kids at school - She nearly wet herself with laughter when one of her friends told her - anyone who knows me will know that, OK I may look like a hardnut ( because of Guru Ji's bakhshi Sardari) - but I am a real softie - one who can be 'tickled' into submission and who cannot recite 'Shabad Hazarey' without crying!

-- But because my parents instilled Sikhi into me - I could invoke the 'Strength' to deal with any hardship.

Parents need to listen to their children - be vigilant and look for early signs of 'trouble' - they also need to address their childrens' fears and explain any questions they have fully - in other words take the time to nurture them not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.

In this post I hope you will give your experiences and pass on any stragegies or ways you coped with experiences at school - to help our younger Brothers and Sisters.

Isn't it amazing how in this world all you need to do is tie a piece of material around your head and all hell breaks loose ? you hear many horror stories - that lead children to cut their kesh - some say we should move with the times and not place such a burden on our children. Many People believe it is a modern phenomen that young Sikhs are cutting their kesh and say it was 'easier' before and we should 'Go with the times'.

In Sooraj Prakash an incident is narrated where Guru Gobind Singh is asked by Naunidh what is the need for Kesh and Shaster in this day and age - we should 'Change with the times' - Guru Ji gives a beautiful reply, using Gurbani - that the same Moon Stars and mountains are still the same and - they haven't changed - it is only we who have changed and look for the easy way. Kesh and Shaster are ancient Royal symbols - Sardari given to the Khalsa.

Here is that particular incident - with an English synopsis from The Encl. of Sikhism - Ed. Harbans Singh






(*from Sri Gur Pratap Sooraj Granth - Kavi Chooramann Bhai Santokh Singh Ji - edited by Bhai Sahib Dr Veer Singh -Bhasha Vibhag Punjab - 1992 edition - Vol 14 (Rut 6 aain 1 ansu 47) page 6203


NAUNIDH, Bhandari Khatri of Agra, waited upon Guru Gobind Singh during his visit to the city in AD 1707. According to Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, he enquired about the reason for prescribing unshorn hair for the Sikhs. The Guru explained that keeping long hair was no innovation because this had been an old tradition. "But the times have changed," argued Naunidh. The Guru said,"What times have changed? Aren't they the same sun, the same moon, the same water, air, fire and earth as have ever been? The fault lies in us. We have become too lazy and readily resort to such excuses."

Naunidh went away chastened.


1. Santokh Singh, Bhai, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth. Amritsar, 1927-35

2. Gian Singh, Giani, Twarikh Guru Khalsa [Reprint], Patiala, 1970

The Shabad cited by Guru Gobind Singh ( Ang 902)

ਰਾਮਕਲੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ਅਸਟਪਦੀਆ

raamkalee mehlaa 1 asatpadee-aa

Raamkalee, First Mehl, Ashtapadees:

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

ik-oNkaar satgur parsaad.

One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

ਸੋਈ ਚੰਦੁ ਚੜਹਿ ਸੇ ਤਾਰੇ ਸੋਈ ਦਿਨੀਅਰੁ ਤਪਤ ਰਹੈ ॥

so-ee chand charheh say taaray so-ee dinee-ar tapat rahai.

The same moon rises, and the same stars; the same sun shines in the sky.

ਸਾ ਧਰਤੀ ਸੋ ਪਉਣੁ ਝੁਲਾਰੇ ਜੁਗ ਜੀਅ ਖੇਲੇ ਥਾਵ ਕੈਸੇ ॥੧॥

saa Dhartee so pa-un jhulaaray jug jee-a khaylay thaav kaisay. ||1||

The earth is the same, and the same wind blows. The age in which we dwell affects living beings, but not these places. ||1||

Here are some pictures and more inspirational material -- Please do post you own experiences and any coping strategies

The 1970s

Skinheads/racism - In East London in areas like Little Ilford young school children were attacked by adults - when youths started defending themselves - they were arrested - The Newham 7 and the Newham 8

School Children on strike in support of the Newham 8



an Anti Racist Rally


Ringa a Roses - kids playing in the park - note the tight braids/ plaits - also known as 'Kareley' or door knockers !


A great 1970s example of the so called 'African Pugh'


A young namdharee boy


The first Sikh in the London police - Special Constable Jabbal 1970


Sikhs in the UK fought many cases for the right to wear turbans at work and at school

Here is Kulbinder Singh Vahmra of Wolverhampton - who along side Gurinder Singh Mandla - fought cases that led to Sikhs being classed as a Nation/ Race under the Race Relations Act - and outlawed discrimination against turbans


( *Daily Telegraph May 4 1979 )

Sikh Women also had to fight to wear the Dastaar


(* Daily Telegraph 7 September 1979)

The First generation of Sikh women to wear turbans to English schools



(* From Des Pardes Weekly )

Demonstration against the Lord Denning ruling that Sikh were not a Nation - Later reversed --- I remember going to this demonstration - with my friends from Gurdwara - we shouted 'Jaikaras' so loud all day we all had sore throats the next day !


One way Parents can boost the self esteem of children with Kesh is to make a 'fuss' when they first begin to tie turbans - this shows the importance and can help in the sometimes difficult transition from Jura/patka to full dastar. The Dastar bandi ceremony is a great way to make a child feel special ( Some argue the ceremony should be called 'Dastar Sajna' - as Dastar Bandi is a ceremony only performed when the head of the family dies and a dastar is tied on the new head /Heir)

1970s Dastar ceremony


1980s Dastar Ceremony




The Dastar Bandi of Sant Ji


Extract from 'The Style of the Lion' - Jasprit and Teresa Singh 1998


Sikh Children at School assembly in England


Beautiful Kesh -


Interesting and Beautiful Dastaars

Some examples of American Sikh Turbans

In this 1970s picture the womens turbans are tied further back - showing their hair line


In these pictures you can see examples of the tall 'Stove pipe' turban





Anand Karaj


a flowery style



hair Massage


Dumalla tying


at Amritsar


A Nihangni


A very colourful and pointy style !


Afghan Style - a picture from a pharmacy in Kunduz, Afghanistan - showing an Afghan Sardar Ji - wearing the distinctive Dastar worn by the Afghan Sangat.


The Maharaja of Patiala - Bhupinder Singh , known for his beautiful turban - The Patiala Shahi Style - here shown in Madrid , Spain 1928


Divine Light


Hope you enjoyed this HUGE post - please post your 'coping stragegies' and experiences - I am sure they will be of help to all our youngsters.

Sat Siri Akaal GurBar Akaal !

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa waheguru ji ki Fateh !

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

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Brilliant post veer ji.

Many people experience; or are scared of taunting or snidey ridicule in the work place. I have always experience this so called "fun" from a few individuals everytime I have started a new job. The thing to do is not fall into the trap of thinking "I'll give them a chance, correct them next time", every tinme you do this the aggressors/jokers just become more bold.

Best thing to do is sort it out straightaway. I normally approach the person afterwards or there and then (depending on the level of rudeness), and ask them to come outside for a quick word. I will then explain in a polite but steadfast tone, the significane of the dumalla, quote a few words from Winston Churchill, relay a few facts re Word Wars 1 & 2, and Lucknow, explain the economic and cultural contribution of Sikhs to the UK, This nearly always ends the problem there and then, and a healthy mutual friendship develops. Just need to show them that the bravery and success of our community stems from our faith.

Sometimes a really ignorent person will think it funny to touch your Dumalla after coming back to the office (slightly staggering) from the Christmas Lunch.

In this case I have gripped the persons wrist "very" tightly, and calmy explained that my "turban" is very sacred, please don't ever even let the thought enter your mind again. You may then find the individual develops an instantaneous respect for your heritage and wants you to leanr everything about your faith.

Other times, people ask why don't you cut your beard/kes (amid a funny terrorist comment), I simply explain - "your question is akin to me asking you to cut of your right arm, there is much, much higher probabilty to you agreeing to my request, than me to yours". This will take the humour out of their being, and then allow to me to explain in a little more detail, (knowing that they will listen attentively as I have their attention).

But in all honesty, 95% of people are great, very open minded and happy to see someone living their life with principles that don't involve jumping on the 21st century cultural band wagon. The key is to have some basic historical and religious knowledge, and show full faith and confidence in your beliefs (and more importantly, have full faith and confidence in your faith).


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  • 4 months later...

i never heard that song if you wanna wear a turban clap your hands before. sounds really funny, but im sure it wasnt at the time.

i do remmeber that as children we at sports were taking the ssip out of a singh, saying you donrt need to wear a crash helmet for this sport( rounders or summat). None of us knew what a turban was or infact sikhi for that matter. now i think back to that ssip-taking and think i wish i'd known a lot more then. nice pics.

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Here is Kulbinder Singh Vahmra of Wolverhampton - who along side Gurinder Singh Mandla - fought cases that led to Sikhs being classed as a Nation/ Race under the Race Relations Act

Ludicrous that you thought you could just slip that one in. A gross distortion. The Mandla case established for the purposes of the Race Relations Act that the Sikhs are an "ethnic group" under the Race Relations Act (effectively denying all rights of Sikh converts to wear turban).

Neither the judgment in Mandla nor in any other case have ever held that Sikhs are a "nation".

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