In defence of the turban and its honour

WHILE delving into the history of the turban in his article “Bans and turbans: A matter of honour” (Spectrum, Feb 1), Mr Roopinder Singh has rightly observed that wearing of turban is not the sole Sikh prerogative or symbol. The attacks on some turbaned Sikhs in the US, after 9/11, were not aimed at Sikhs in particular. These were the result of mistaken identities. For, many individuals in many a Muslim nation, who were allegedly behind those heinous terrorist attacks in the US, also wear turbans and beared.

It is a hard fact that though once considered as a symbol of pride for every Indian, today majority of Indians, except Sikhs, do not support turban as their daily-wear headgear. However, this socio-cultural legacy that Sikhs have been carrying on till today should not parochially be associated with Sikh religion alone. More so because today though most of the Sikhs wear turban routinely as a part of their daily dress, they do not necessarily wear all other religious symbols. I refer to all the five K’s, which were prescribed by the great saint-soldier Guru Gobind Singh in the eighteenth century.

It is this very socio-cultural fact about the turban that needs to be told to the French government, which obviously seems to be concerned only about the rise of religious fundamentalism. It is perhaps on the same lines that our own Army has recently laid down strict rules against wearing of religious symbols by uniformed army personnel. And there is nothing wrong in it.

I am sure, the French government shall not have any objection against the wearing of turbans by Sikh students in their schools which do not project religious fundamentalism but is an integral part of their daily dress.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh




Mr Roopinder Singh has referred to the trials and tribulations of the turban. However, he has not referred to “khandua”, specially used by the Jats of Rohtak, Sonepat and Jhajjar in Haryana. It is used in different styles. The late Sir Chhotu Ram, most landlords and officers wore it in the undivided Punjab.

In Haryana, as in other areas, “pugree” is tied in a myriad of styles. The khandua’s colour signifies the allegiance and faith of the wearer — male or female. For instance, the sadhus/ sanyasins who swear in the name of Swami Dayanand Saraswati and his cult, the Arya Samaj, prefer to wear saffron colour headgear. Women celibates wear saffron clothes — saris, salwar kameej or even temad. Yuva sanyasis like Swami Agnivesh (founder president of the Bandhua Mukti Morcha) and Swami Indervesh, veteran Arya Samaj activist, use saffron stockings and handkerchiefs too.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhari Devi Lal used green khandua. His eldest son Chief Minister O. P. Chautala, followers and front-ranking activists of the Indian National Lok Dal use the same. Mr Roopinder Singh has admirably stated in defence of the turban and its honour. He aptly concludes that “ You judge a man by his turban, gait and speech.”

C.R. RATHEE, Gurgaon

Chief Khalsa Diwan

In his article “Restoring the credibility of Sikh institutions” (Perspective, Jan 18), Mr Gunbir Singh wrote about the Chief Khalsa Diwan, a respectable Sikh organisation. The Chief Khalsa Diwan is not confined to Punjab but spread all over India. The National Minorities Commission has rightly pulled it out of government control. Tthe Sikhs all over the world have full faith in the Akal Takht Sahib.


Traffic education

Apropos of the article “Go for traffic education” (Windows, Jan 31), there is a need to spread traffic education among people. One’s awareness of traffic rules must be tested at the time of issuing him/her the driving licence. This is not done at present. Vehicle users today are ignorant about the right of way at the crossings and roundabouts. Parents should be held responsible for traffic offences committed by their underaged children. This will act as a deterrent.

Lt-Col. BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali

Mark Twain’s works

This has reference to Mr S. Raghunath’s article “The Twain legend” (Spectrum, Jan 4). Mark Twain (1835-1910) is the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He was an American humorist and novelist, brought up in the small town of Hannibal, Missouri on the Mississippi river.

He had a wide knowledge of humanity. Speaking of his career as a pilot, he once remarked that he recognised every well-drawn character in fiction and biography as a man (and a woman too) “that I have known before — met him on the river”. Thus, he took the pseudonym “Mark Twain” which means “the river man’s cry for a sounding of two fathoms” on the Mississppi.

From the disillusionment and bitterness of Mark Twain’s later years came a few good short pieces. The nadir of his pessimism is marked by “What Is Man?” (published anonymously in 1906). Where this work fails intellectually, “The Mysterious Stranger” (published posthumously in 1916) succeeds imaginatively. It has been rightly compared, with reason, with philosophical tales of Voltaire (1694-1778).


Former journalist?

Mrs Humra Quraishi, while commenting on my book of memoirs “Caterpillar in the salad” in her column (Sunday Oped, Feb 1), has described me as a “former” journalist. This is most unjust because I have never retired from journalism. Being a journalist herself, Mrs Humra Quraishi should know that lawyers, politicians and journalists never retire.


Keeping marital ties smooth and happy

APROPOS of Ms Anupriya Sethi’s article “When dowry becomes a source of harassment for grooms” (Perspective, Feb 1), when a woman, despite her best efforts, fails to have a respectable place in her in-laws’ house, decides to secure it through the use or misuse of the Anti-Dowry Act. This provides her an opportunity to expose the conduct of her in-laws. The cumulative effect of humiliating or tension-ridden atmosphere in the home forces her to take the matter to the court. If things are handled properly, marital relations can proceed smoothly. Guidance and counselling before and after marriage play wonders.

Children and youth should be educated on how to respect human feelings for a better adjustment in life. The girl must know how to deal with different people in her in-laws house. Similarly, the boy should keep in mind that in any civilised society the girl is an equal partner in life. Legislations like the Anti-Dowry Act are meant to help and protect her.

The guidance and counselling centres should be of a reasonably high order. Sometimes, counselling may be necessary even for parents, brothers and the in-laws. The print and the electronic media can do wonders in this regard.

The best way to keep marital relations healthy is by developing an attitude of helping each other. Quarrelling couples not only spoil their own taste of life but also the future of their children. If every positive attempt fails, one should not hesitate to take recourse to judicial remedy. Domestic violence is a heinous crime and has no place in a civilised society.



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