Source: Sikh News Network/Outlook India
One is often told that a Sikh without his flowing hair and turban is like a king without a crown. But, across Punjab, and more so in the countryside, young members of the community are giving up the most visible religious symbol of Sikh identity -- long hair and the turban. The trend, which has been growing in the last four to five years, has reached "epidemic" proportions and now has the Sikh religious leadership worried. So much so that desperate campaigns have been launched to revive the use of the turban.
When Outlook began examining this trend, Sikh organizations engaged in saving the turban estimated that about 80 per cent of the Sikh youth in rural Punjab have cut their hair and discarded their headgear. An exaggeration, one thought. But president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the highest decision-making body for the Sikhs, Avtar Singh Makkar, confirms this trend.
"With a turban on his head, a Sikh will feel guilty of breaching his faith. Its absence frees him from such qualms." Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti
He told Outlook: "Yes, it's true that in many places about 80 per cent of Sikh youth have indeed cut their hair. Sadly the 'dastaar bandhi samaagam' (a turban-tying ceremony for young boys), too, has become rare in villages because very few boys of 13 or 14 years of age have long hair."