My Turban is My Resistance: Vaisakhi 2012 Reflections

The last few weeks, Sikhs around the world have been celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa. I intended to do a Vaisakhi post earlier, but travels have kept me from sitting down and writing down some of my reflections until now. I have found myself in small and medium-sized towns throughout the midwestern and southern United States these last two weeks, feeling my outward identity as a Sikh projecting more conspicuously than ever.

NYC's Annual Sikh Day Parade

Consequently, I began thinking a lot about the significance of the Bana that Guru Gobind Singh gave us in 1699. What a fearless, defiant act of revolutionary love it was for Sikhs to wear their identity so visibly in a time when they faced such severe violent repression. A time when it was dangerous to be a Sikh, where being a Sikh meant you were an enemy of the empire, a threat, where there was a price on your head, a target on your back. Yet rather than blending into Indian society and building its movement for sovereignty and justice subversively, the Khalsa wore its identity loudly and proudly so everyone knew very clearly who a Sikh was.

I think about this today as more and more of cut our hair because we can’t take the torment of bullying in schools any more or trim our beards so we look more “professional” at our corporate jobs. Bana seems to have lost its appeal to many, for an ever-expanding list of reasons. Looking back at our history, it never has been easy. And perhaps that is part of the point. I wouldn’t wish the traumatic experience of racist harassment on anyone, but I know very well that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without all the struggles I have dealt with because of my Sikh identity.

In a time of increasing vigilante murders of unarmed people wearing hoodies, hijabs, or turbans, choosing to maintain our articles of faith or identity in a time when those very articles are vilified is truly a revolutionary act, just as it was when the Sikh uniform was created in 1699.

This Vaisakhi, I salute not only my Sikh sisters and brothers who continue representing the Khalsa spirit through their Bana (and otherwise), but all those of other communities who stand proudly in their religious or cultural garb even when everything in our society is telling them they are wrong, they are the enemy, they are outsiders/foreigners/terrorists.

A few weeks ago Arab American activist Linda Sarsour said, “My hijab is my hoodie.“ In that spirit of solidarity and in celebration of the 314th Vaisakhi, I say, my turban is your hijab, your hoodie, your kippah, your kufi, your dreadlocks—our collective resistance.

Panth Ki Jeet!


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12 Responses to “My Turban is My Resistance: Vaisakhi 2012 Reflections”

  1. Raman says:

    *Sikhs, not Sikh in the first sentence.

  2. Mohinder Singh says:

    @brooklynwala,I would like to know how many times in actuality you have been attacked physicaly,for wearing your turban.Do not take it the wrong way I am just trying to compile some statics.Thnx.

  3. Kaur says:

    the last paragraph- spot on.

  4. prabhujeet says:

    Beautiful article. Thanks for posting

  5. Anjana says:

    Great article. Proud to be a Sikh.

  6. JSJ says:

    I don't know who the person(s) behind this blog is(are) as I was looking for more information on Bhatinda refinery, I came to click on this site and found this story offending story. WTF?

    "Turbans on his table, will Nitin Gadkari please explain this". Shows 3 turbans on his table with a patka wearins sikh sitting on a side chair.

    I sure found this offending.