Guru Gobind Singh Ji stated firmly that a Sikh should have his hair intact and covered with a turban, so wearing the turban is very important and an integral item for a Sikh.
It is not one of the 5 K’s, but it is mandatory.
All the Gurus in the Sikh faith (over a period of 239 years from 1469-1708) wore turbans. The same Divine spirit pervaded successively in all the Guru’s.
For a Sikh the turban is not a hat that one can remove at anytime. It is an essential item of clothing, tied/wrapped around the head to cover the hair and maintain its sanctity. In fact the turban becomes part of a Sikhs hair and head. Without it a Sikh would feel naked.
A Sikh will die for the honour of his turban and would be cremated with it when the time comes.
Normally Sikhs would start wearing a turban from around the age of five.
Under five year old Sikh boys would have their heads covered with a patkaa.
Different types and styles of turbans are worn in different parts of the world. e.g. Sikhs from Patiala wear a soldiers military style, Rajasthani Sikhs wear a very distinguished, colourful and aristocratic style turban, whereas Sikhs from East Africa often wear white turbans in their own unique style.
The colour of the turban is the individual’s choice. Sometimes it is worn to match with one’s clothing (e.g. red, orange, blue etc). A white coloured turban is traditionally a symbol of purity.
The covering of the head is considered respectful, covering the head with the turban is:
An act of modesty and respect. It symbolises honour and dignity.
It works as shield, protecting against violation of a Sikhs values and ethics.
Makes one stand out and be counted even in a crowd.
Provides a sense of security and belonging to a particular faith.
The turban represents acceptance of discipline and practice of Sikh values. A Sikh with his turban looks quite majestic / regal. The turban looks like a princely crown so the title Singh given to Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh Ji is very appropriate.
To take off somebody’s turban by force is considered rude and is tantamount to inflicting the maximum indignity to someone’s honour.
Such was the importance given to turbans that Sikh soldiers in the British army took pride in wearing them and declined very firmly to wear helmets.
There are many customs and traditions linked with turbans. Sometimes men exchange turbans as a symbol / proof of becoming spiritual brothers.
When a father dies in a family, after the funeral, the eldest son is given the turban to wear symbolising that he has taken on the responsibilities of the father as the head of the family.
A Sikh without a turban can get married at a registry office, but will not be allowed to get married in a Gurudwara without a turban.
May God infuse the spirit of pride and joy in the minds of our present and future generations, so they learn to respect their faith, traditions and values.