Sikh Missionary Society
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Taking Amrit
 
The Sikh Symbols

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: The Sikh Symbols:

 The Turban


The Turban

As is the crown to a sovereign, so is a Turban to a Sikh.

In order to keep Kesh (unshaven hair) intact and tidy and to maintain its sanctity, the turban is a necessity. Since the turban had acquired a social and political status, the Guru wanted the Sikhs to be equal with the highest prince of the land. The turban and the horse, hitherto reserved for the nobility and the higher castes, were given to the Sikhs and in this way the ages-old monopoly of the ruling classes was smothered forever. For a Sikh, the turban is a frontier between faith and unbelief. It is deemed to give the Sikh dignity, consecration and majestic humility. Throughout the East, it is commonly believed that a man is known not only the company he keeps but also by his Dastar (Turban), Guftar (Speech), and Raftar (Gait). The turban is therefore thought to be a symbol of generosity, truthfullness, maturity, piety and fearlessness. Since it is the head which discriminates between the right and the wrong, the true and the false, the durable and the ephemeral, and the real and the illustory; so it is entitled to more care and protection than any other part of the body. Thus in the East; the turban stands for the material symbol of a spiritual awakening, equipoise and rational thinking. Consequently the turban has been mentioned in many of the common sayings and proverbs in the East. To mention only a few; pagg Lauhani (To knock the turban off) is an act of great insult. pagg di Laaj Rakhna (To justify the wearing of a turban is to act rightly, wisely and in a socially acceptable way.) Pagg noon dagg Launa (To sullify the turban) means to act unlawfully and in a socially unacceptable way.

The turban also has another signficane for the Sikhs. The exchange of turbans between persons means that they have become dedicated brothers to each other and that they will stand by each other through thick and thin. Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Emperor of the Punjab from 1799 to 1939) and Sardar Fateh Singh Ahluwalia (the ruler of Kapurthala state from 1801 to 1837) had exchanged turbans and thus remained friends throughout their lives. When the patriarch of a Sikh family dies, the relatives and friends assemble and the ceremony of offering a turban to the deceased's elder son takes place. This means that from thenceforth he is to be responsible for conducting the family business. So the turban signifies additional responsibility and duty. The turban, when offered as a present in token of the selfless service rendered, is regarded as a great honour for the recipient. A Sikh gentleman is addressed as Sardar (chief) in India because of his turban and uncut hair and beard.
 
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