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Sikhs, Turban and France


For Sikhs, turban is an emotive issue and generally in religious matters, one tends to be non-judgmental, particularly if one belongs to a different religion than the one in question.
I had often heard that Sikhs are distressed that France has banned use of turban in the schools. Today I happened to read a very different point of view. Mr Balvinder, a former Principal of Govt College, Chandigarh has written this letter to the editor and is published in The Tribune (January 26, 2008). A fresh air!

The letter is reproduced here:

“I read Roopinder Singh’s article, “Turban: A matter of pride and honour” (Jan 23). If the turban was that important, why did Guru Gobind Singh, while laying down five musts, known as five ‘K’s (kesh, kangha, kara, kachha and kirpan) for Sikhs, not add turban to it?

Those days everybody in this region, irrespective of his religion, used to wear a turban. With the passage of time, most people in this region stopped wearing turbans except the Sikhs who continued to carry the Guru’s dress style. Strangely, a majority of the Sikh masses followed the Guru’s dress code partially by sticking only to the turban. For, they have fondly accepted the western dress style.

If one goes by the compulsive clause of wearing turbans by Sikhs, no Sikh ever can be an astronaut. The French ban on the display of religious symbols (aimed not solely at Sikhs) is exactly like the ban in Indian armed forces. Here too, fighter Sikh pilots are not allowed to wear turbans while flying aircraft; they wear helmets.

If we take a biased approach to such non-issues (non-issue because the number of students restricted from wearing turbans in France is less than a dozen) we can never think of a better peace-loving and progressive society.”


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