Amritsar: It is well-known that turban (also known as ‘dastar') is a traditional headwear of Sikhs and is considered to be an important part of their religion but the way a Sikh committee is promoting it among young Sikh boys has astonished all.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is promoting amongst school – going Sikh boys that they should not go patit (get their hair cut) and keep their hair and wear turban to get respect as “Mr. Singh”.
They are promoting, in both private and public schools, that if boys wear turban then it will make them look taller and keep them away from the “infectious diseases” that spread through visits to the hairdresser. Not only this, a turban on head has also been told as a way to stay away from drugs by the committee to the young boys.
Since December 2014, more than 100 preachers of the Amritsar-headquartered SGPC, the apex representative body of Sikhs which is ruled by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has visited at least 1000 schools across the state preaching these so-called benefits of wearing a turban.
The preachers counselled the ‘patit' or “fallen Sikhs” that they should follow the tenets of Sikhism and should not cut their hair. The drive is being promoted under the name ‘Sikhi Saroop Mera Asli Roop' (means Being Sikh is my real identity).
Till date the SGPC preachers have identified almost 14,000 such Sikhs who have cut their hair and the committee believes that they need counselling against deviation from faith.
Jagdev Singh, the head preacher of this drive conducted by SGPC Dharam Prachar Committee says, “We go to schools, identify Sikh students who have cut their hair, separate them for a lecture, and tell them that being Sikh will bring them more respect in society.”
The series does not end here. In the next phase, two students – one with turban and another without turban – are picked from the quorum and a demonstration is given on the spot that how wearing a turban is acting as a height booster for one and making him look more handsome than the other one.
Students are also told that in this manner they can stay healthy by keeping away from the infectious diseases that spread through scissors of the hair dressers.
The drive became a concern when it was learnt that the “fallen Sikh” students were made to sign an undertaking that they would “never go patit again”. The committee even has plans to honour such students during its three-day celebrations, starting from June 17, to mark the 350th Foundation Day of Anandpur Sahib.
It is learnt from a report in Indian Express that the first phase of the drive is closing soon with around 14,000 students signing the undertaking to grow their hair and follow the tenets of Sikhism and the committee has plans to start with the next leg of the drive soon.
Interestingly, the education department of Amritsar is totally unaware of this programme. SatinderBir Singh, District Education Officer (Secondary Education) says, “This hasn't come to my notice”.
He further said that if SGPC is only asking Sikh students to start following the tenets of Sikhism then it is just a kind of moral education. However, if the preachers are asking students of other faith to start following the religion then it is wrong.
Ideally, he said, “such an exercise should not be held in schools. Schools are secular in nature”.