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Holiness and Spirituality:

Importance of hair for Sikhs:

turban_sikhHair is one of the five articles of faith for Sikhs. Sikhs live the way God made humans and never cut their hair. For Sikhs hair is the symbol of love for God and the respect for everything He has given us. The way God made us is the most beautiful of all. Millions of Sikhs do not cut their hair and their hair grows to a specific length depending on their individual characteristics. Sikhs have been keeping their hair unshorn for centuries and know this fact for real. Sikhs are not to use razors or any other such devices on their bodies from the time of birth, for they do not cut their hair from any part of their bodies. In order to keep hair neat and clean, Sikhs roll the hair on the top of their head. The hair is then covered by different types of turbans.

From the scientific point of view, keeping hair is practical because hair has many functions. It traps an insulating layer of still air just outside the skin, and thereby keeping the head cool in summer and warm in winters. Furthermore, hair absorbs harmful ultra violet radiations from the sun and reduces skin cancer. In addition, hair follicles can make androgenic hormones. Axillary hair provides larger surface area for evaporation of sweat.


The turban or “pagri” often shortened to “pag” or “dastar” are different words in various dialect for the same article. All these words refer to the garment worn by both men and women to cover their heads. It is a headdress consisting of a long scarf-like single piece of cloth wound round the head or sometimes an inner “hat” or patka.

The dastaar, as the Sikh turban is known, is an article of faith that has been made mandatory by the founders of Sikhism. It is not to be regarded as mere cultural paraphernalia.

When a Sikh man or woman dons a turban, the turban ceases to be just a piece of cloth and becomes one and the same with the Sikh’s head. The turban as well as the other articles of faith worn by Sikhs have an immense spiritual as well as temporal significance. The symbolisms of wearing a turban are many from it being regarded as a symbol of sovereignty, dedication, self-respect, courage and piety but the reason all practicing Sikhs wear the turban is just one – out of love and obedience of the wishes of the founders of their faith.

Purpose of turban

All Sikh Gurus since Guru Nanak Dev Ji wore turban. However, the covering of hair with turban was made official by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru of Sikhs. The main reasons to wear turban is to take care of the hair, promote equality, and preserve the Sikh identity.

Sikhs do not cut their hair as a respect towards God and the turban protects the hair from dust. Some people might ask the question that if Sikhs cover their hair on head, why don’t they cover their beard? Dirt is not a big problem for beard. The beard can be cleaned very easily while washing the face. Covering of the head by turban also symbolizes respect towards God.

Importance of turban for sikhs

turban_sikh2It is not to tell others who we are. It is a reminder to myself who I am.

The Sikh Gurus sought to end all caste distinctions and vehemently opposed stratification of society by any means. They diligently worked to create an egalitarian society dedicated to justice and equality. The turban is certainly a gift of love from the founders of the Sikh religion and is symbolic of sovereignty that is of Divine concession.

The turban has been an integral part of the Sikh Tradition since the time of Guru Nanak Dev. Historical accounts relay to us that all Sikh Gurus wore turbans and their followers –Sikhs– have been wearing them since the formation of the faith.

The turban serves as a mark of commitment to the Sikh Gurus. It distinguishes a Sikh as an instrument of the Guru and decrees accountability for certain spiritual and temporal duties. It is a mark of the Guru and declares that the Sikh wearing a turban is a servant of the Divine Presence.

Wearing the turban gives much inner strength as well. Sikhs take this gift of the Guru with them everywhere they go. Just by being exposed to this regal quality, their attitudes and psyche get shaped in a certain way. At the same time, there is a great deal of responsibility accompanied by the turban. A person’s actions are no longer just tied to him or her. Since Sikhs who wear the turban represent the Guru, their actions too reflect on the Guru and the Sikh Nation. In this sense, the turban serves to increase a Sikh’s commitment to Sikhism and lends to him or her becoming a more disciplined and virtuous person.

The turban certainly deepens the connection between the Sikh and the Guru. The turban proclaims the followers of Guru Nanak as Sikhs but at the same time, it is not what makes them Sikhs. Prophet Mohammed in one of his hadiths states that the turban is a frontier between faith and unbelief. This aptly describes the significance of the turban for a Sikh as well. It is a true mark of sovereignty and a crown. By adorning their turbans, Sikhs serve as ambassadors of the Sikh faith and commit externally to following the path laid down by the Sikh Gurus.

Holiness and Spirituality

Turban is a symbol of spirituality and holiness in Sikhism. When Guru Amar Das left for heavenly abode, his elder son Pirthi Chand wore a special turban which is usually born by an elder son when his father passes away. At that time Guru Arjan Dev was honored with the turban of Guruship.

For young Sikhs, turban-tying ceremony binds them to their faith

For a Sikh, it is a beautiful ceremony. He is going to be walking forward in society with a turban on, and this is a way to say that we are with him.

Pag Vatauni

People in Punjab have been and still do exchange turbans with closest friends. Once they exchange turbans they become friends for life and forge a permanent relationship. They take a solemn pledge to share their joys and sorrows under all circumstances. Exchanging turbans is a glue that can bind two individuals or familes together for generations.

Dastar Bandhi

A very important and exciting event in the life of a Sikh boy is when he starts tying the turban. In a Sikh family this ceremony is held normally when the boy is between 11 to 16 years old. It is usually held in a Gurudwara before the Guru Granth Sahib and following Ardas. It is called Dastar Bandi. Sometimes the family will have a special function inviting close friends and relatives to celebrate the occasion. The boy is seated in front of Guru Granth Sahib. An elder relation ties the turban on his head. The Granthi (the reader of Guru Granth Sahib) explains to the boy why he must keep long hair and wear a turban. Prayers are said to invoke Guru’s blessing on the boy. The turban tied in this ceremony can be of any color; however baby pink is the most popular of all these days.

Sehra Bandhi

In Sikhs, the wedding happens during  the day. On the same day a custom called Sehra Bandhi is performed at groom’s house, before he leaves for Gurudwara for wedding. During this the sisters of the groom ties ‘Kalgi’ (turban accessory) on his turban. This custom is derived from Hindu and Muslim wedding where ‘Sehra’- a flowery veil is tied on the grooms head to cover his face. However, in most of the Sikh weddings today the groom wears the veil along with the traditional ‘Kalgi’ on his turban.

Rasam Pagri or Rasam Dastar

People who have lived in India would know the turban tying ceremony known as Rasam Pagri (Turban Tying Ceremony). This ceremony takes place once a man passes away and his oldest son takes over the family responsibilities by tying his turban in front of a large gathering. The oldest surviving male member of the family is presented with a turban and declared the new head of the family in the presence of the extended family or clan. The turban signifies honour, and the ceremony signifies the transition of responsibility for the protection and welfare of the family from the deceased to the surviving oldest male member. The ceremony usually takes place on the 10th day from the day of funeral rites.  It signifies that now he has shouldered the responsibility of his father and he is the head of the family.


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