“Don’t you feel hot under your turban?” asked a colleague. I smiled, and replied to his curious question “No king has ever felt hot under his crown. And for Sikhs the turban is their crown”.
I am sure many of my Sikh brothers and sisters would have been asked this question and would have given a similar reply.
In over the years I have found a deeper answer to this question. What is the importance of a turban? A Sikh turban symbolizes the virtues and values that our Gurus have taught us. Everyday a Sikh ties his/her turban (yes. A kaur too ties a turban), he/she promises to abide by the values.
So what are these values and how is it connected to the turban?
A Sikh turban has folds or laads as we call it in Punjabi. Each laad signifies a value — Truth, Honest Hard Work & Satisfaction, Fearless Seva (help), faith and Equality.
Truth — The first laad is a promise to the almighty that as a Sikh I shall always stand and support the truth. No situation will shake my belief in truth and I am ready to face any consequence to support it.
Faith — The second laad is a promise to have faith in the almighty and to surrender yourself by chanting his name (naam japna).
Honest Hard Work & Satisfaction — The third laad is a promise to work honestly and be satisfied with what one has, and to thank the almighty for this. This is one of the reasons why you may not find a Sikh begging but working hard to earn his/her living.
Fearless Seva — The fourth laad is a promise to serve humanity without any fear. If you see someone in need of help, don’t think twice and offer your help.
Remember Harman Singh who removed his turban to save a young boy’s life?
Or how two Singhs (Inderpal Singh and Kamalpreet Singh) saved four people from drowning?
Or do we remember the 12’clock joke that has always been cracked, which is actually a true Sikh history of bravery where Sardar Jassa Singh (commander of the Sikh Army) and his army saved the lives of women and children from the oppression of the Mugals (Nadir Shah)? 12 o’clock (midnight) is the time when a small army of Singhs led by Sardar Jassa Singh attacked the sleeping Mugal army using guerrilla warfare.
Equality — The fifth laad is a promise to never discriminate anyone based on his or her cast, creed, gender, race, colour, wealth, etc. Every human, plant and animal has been created by the almighty and his birth has a certain duty to be performed. So a true Gursikh will always respect others by welcoming them by saying Sat Shri Aakal.
One of the best examples of equality is the Langar Seva. People of all faith and religion are welcomed to have guru ka langar. Whatever may be your status quo, you will be made to sit down on the ground along with the sangat to have the meal.
The other example of equality comes from Guru Nanak Dev ji’s verse (Raag Aasaa Mehal 1, Page 473) where he values the importance of women.
From woman, man is born;
within woman, man is conceived;
to woman he is engaged and married.
Woman becomes his friend;
through woman, the future generations come.
When his woman dies, he seeks another woman;
to woman he is bound.
So why call her bad?
From her, kings are born.
From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.
That is the true value of the turban. It is not a piece of cloth tied to one’s head. It is a promise to serve humanity and share goodwill.
So the next time you see a Sikh welcome them by saying Sat Shri Aakal. By doing so you are honoring the values the person stands for. And in return you will get a smile and a friend for life.
And that is my answer to how hot I feel under my turban. Hope you all agree.