Largest Dumala: Baba Major Singh wears the largest dumala, measuring 400m in length, at the Golden Temple. He even had the record of wearing the largest wearable turban in the Guinness World Records weighing 35 kg.

We’ve all seen Sikhs adorning turbans in different styles and forms. But it is a centuries-old tradition to cover the head in the subcontinent. Tribune Correspondent Charanjit Singh Teja and photojournalist Vishal Kumar traverse the history behind the tradition…

Commonly known as dastaar, pagg, pagri, keski and patki, wearing a turban is a centuries-old tradition to cover the head in the subcontinent as a mark of respect. Generally worn by males, Sikh women and Sadhvis, too, wear turban to cover their head. Traversing different phases of history, it has evolved in style with time. It varies among different regions, cultures, religions, sects, social status and even trades and castes. Though Muslims and Hindus of Punjab used to wear a turban and had different styles of adorning it, it has now been reduced to a few special occasions only. However, in modern era, majorly Sikhs wear the turban, as it is a part of their religious code. Sikhs, too, wear it in different styles, which reflects diversity...

Traditional Turbans

During Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time, the Sikhs adopted a uniform style of turban under French General Ventura. He formed two battalions in the Maharaja’s army, where this uniform-style of tying turban was introduced. Even the terms — pages and fifty —came from European terminology. As military culture dominates Punjabi society, it became a fashion to wear modern turban styles.

Anglo-Sikh turbans: These turbans were part of the uniform of Sikh soldiers, who fought world wars for the British. There is a huge influence of this style of turbans on Sikhs in the Indian Army. People call it Fauji Pagg.

A painting of Havildar Isher Singh, who was killed in the Battle of Saragarhi, displayed at Saragarhi Inn, Amritsar.


It is a traditional style of turban which used to be worn by Sikh warriors. Nowadays, Nihang Sikhs, who wear a blue dress of Khalsa Panth, wear it. They use strong fabric and tie it so tightly that it doesn’t open during fights (now, martial arts) or while riding a horse. Elements such as iron chakaras, small swords, barshi (sharp-edged knives), nagni (snake-style), mor-pankh and chan tara are used to decorate the turban. Some Nihangs wear huge and heavy dumala, while some prefer it small and lightweight. The colour is mainly blue. Women also wear a dumala and it is called keski.

Nagni Dumala: Akali Singh, a Russian Sikh, wears a dumala in Amritsar decorated with nagni, a weapon on it.
A policewoman also seen wearing a dumala.
Keski: Mandeep Kaur wears a traditional dumala.

A little girl wears a traditional dumala.
Morpankh: Jarnail Singh, an e-rickshaw driver, wears

mor-pankh on dumala.

Dastar Bunga: A Nihang Sikh wears a towering fortress-style dumala, in which they make a tower on top and display different miniature weapons over it.
Patka/ Patki Sikh children wear patka on their head to cover the jooda.
Rumal Male Sikh children wear a small piece of cloth on the jooda. Mothers decorate it with flowers by exhibiting their embroidery skills on the rumal.
Dupatta Usually women in Punjab wear a dupatta to cover their heads, but in rural areas, working males, too, wear dupatta in turban style. They prefer printed flowers on their dupattas. Baldev Singh and Balwinder Singh, residents of Chhola Sahib, wear a dupatta on their head.
Turbans on rent In recent years, several professionals have emerged to tie turbans on rent around the Golden Temple. Visitors tie turbans on their head just to click photographs.
Namdhari turbans: Followers of the Namdhari sect wear a white turban with a traditional style. Bhai Gurlal Singh recites Gurbani in the picture.
Mawa wali pagg: Old-fashioned Bau Singh at Kairon market is keeping the glory of mawa (starch) wali pagg alive. Urban Sikhs used to apply starch to make the cloth hard.
Kulle wali pagg: It’s popular among Punjabi Muslim population. They wear a triangular cap on top and tie a turban around. Chaudharis and Jat landlords in west Punjab still wear it. Punjabi writer and folklore activist Ahsan Bajwa from Quila Kalar Wala is also seen promoting it.
Casual Turbans: The turban with red and blue stripes is the identity of the Punjab Police. It is being worn during normal duty hours.

UK-style turban:Sikh diaspora in the United Kingdom generally wear black turban. It has different shapes and pleats/pages. Baljeet Singh from England wears a UK-style turban during his visit to Amritsar.
American Sikhs wear a turban made of warm cloth and call it ‘house turban’. Mahinder Singh of city wears it for his comfort.
Malwai Parna: Black and white check rubia fabric, largely used as parna, is a small turban. The check pattern and this style are popular in Malwa region of Punjab. Billu Singh from Sangrur district wears Malwai parna during his visit to Amritsar.
Akali Turban: The Akali movement against the British during the 1920s dominated Sikh fashion too. A shade of blue and the turban style is identified as Akali pagg.

Baaz Singh from Fazilka drapes Akali pagg.

Patiala Shahi Wattan wali pagg: The modern turban is often modified. With clear pleats on one side, people call it Nikku wali pagg, promoted by Punjabi singer Inderjit Nikku. The turban has clear pleats/ pages on both sides called Patiala Shahi. Turban without clear pleats is called wattan wali pagg, recently introduced by singers Diljit Dosanj and Tarsem Jassar. It is quite popular among youth nowadays.

Police turbans

The turban is part of the Punjab Police dress code since its formation in 1861. The police have different turban styles in separate wings...

#Sikhs #SikhTurban

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