Friday, February 24, 2006


Last year when I realized that I was going to India I began thinking about what I could get there that I can't get here. I thought that I might like to switch my turban style and I could do so in India, since I can buy turban material there and not here. It took me a while to make a style that I liked, I tried different methods of tying my turban and different lengths, but eventually I found the style. I use 9 meters cut in half. So I get two turbans from 9 meters of rubia. I didn't really like the Patiala-shahi turban any more, sometimes the point would start to hurt. I also didn't want to wear a damalla (daily anyway) because it is for battle.
Also I realized that I had a chance to get a lot of bana made for a fair price. I had been contemplating wearing bana everyday for a long time. I thought, when I had enough bana that I could wear it everyday, I would. Now was my chance. I made such a huge order, I arranged it ahead of time before getting to India.
When I got back from India, things were different. I went back to work wearing a different turban and dressing completely different. My normal dress for work before going to India was slacks and a button-up shirt. I had (still have, but don't wear) a lot of designer clothes. I usually looked pretty sharp, very 'professional' (I never rolled my beard though), and generally well groomed. Now I look sharper, I'm still well-groomed, and I don't look professional but more princely.
A lot of people have been staring at me at work. I work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is very prestigious amongst scientists. The small town of Los Alamos has the highest number of PHD's per capita in the world. People from all over the US and the world are working here. I can tell immediately who is new and who's been here for a while. The people who are local (Los Alamos, EspaƱola, Santa Fe) have seen Sikhs in full bana for years. The rest stare like they've never seen anything like me (probably haven't). The Labs is the largest employer in Northern New Mexico and so it has a huge work force. Each division is like a speparate company. My brother and my Dad work at the labs but I never see them at work or know anything of the work they do. On a daily basis I only see a (relatively) small number of people who are my co-workers. They are now quite used to seeing me in a kurta/churidar or chola, with a hazoori and 9-meter turban. Only the people who know me personally have commented and they all say the same thing; I look like a king or a prince. One guy said he wanted to be a Sikh, just so he could dress like me.
Wearing bana everyday, makes you very aware of your responsibility to the Guru. You cannot behave in a manner that would bring negative attention to Sikhs. You have to be confident in your beliefs or you will feel crushed by the weight of the stares and the assumed judgements that come with many of the looks. You have to give up all your cares about what other people think and decide that you want to be who you are. For a lot of people wearing bana everyday is not who they are. For me, I've never been happier to wear clothes. The first few days were interesting and I had moments where I didn't feel very confident. In those moments I would catch myself and realize all the great reasons I should be perfectly confident.
Being yourself is very liberating. Nobody can please everybody, and it is useless to try. We all have to wear clothes, why not wear what suites us? We have a uniform that immediately identifies who we are and what we stand for. On my way to work the other day I saw my reflection in a window and I saw a GurSikh in full uniform looking back.

In writing this post I thought I might express some of what I've experienced with this change of appearance in my life. Also I thought I might issue a challenge to others who are considering making a change. If you are considering wearing a turban (man or woman) or bana everyday, and the only thing holding you back is your mind, I would like to challenge you to join me in this change. I know many people have dress codes at work, but many people are worried what their family or community might say when they change. If this is the only set back, it is unfortunate. I had detractors and a lot of people who didn't understand as well, but I still went for it. My challenge is not any different than anybody else's. It's not easier for me than for somebody else. We each have to face challenges representing this sacred path. Without the challenges one might not face themselves and develop conviction in their beliefs.
This path is not cheap, it is not a part-time religion. The value of this great dharma has to be earned, daily.

This was my last day at the Hari Mandir Sahib in December.


Gurumustuk Singh said...

Thanks for sharing Prabhu! It's always great hearing these kinds of personal experiences, which give others the courage to do the same.

Good job :)

Anonymous said...

That was a really interesting post. I found it very true.

I would be really interested to see what type of clothes you wear to work or maybe a picture of you as you go to work?

Anonymous said...

The post honestly moved me. Thanks bro

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post. As a girl wearing a turban, i can really relate to what you say. Being stared at, the one who stands out in a crowd..looks different... has become second nature to me. Alot of what you wear is intrinsically related to how YOU feel about yourself...for me my bana is not an option it is a part of being a part of who i am.

Anonymous said...

definitively to carry you bana every day is a blessing ... even if you are in a place where the people confronts itself on having seen you, wearing sikh bana you can be a flag that radiates peace and happiness to the people, but it is very very important that you are very very happy with your bana and turbant, if you are not can you inspire somebody?....

hvnt had amrit so ?singh said...

I am a white sikh from Galt.Ca and there isnt any sikhs in this town only 3 stores that have employees that are but dont wear bana.. I feel everyone else stands out and I should but dont stare at them for not having a divine realisation of how to live life.I gave up all my old friends I was fired at work for not cutting my hair so I started wearing a turban.I asked a sikh at the store what I have to do to look like the old man with a turban,he told me amrit vela,ishnaan,bani,simran,seva didnt seem like asking too much casue I was looking for something like that I guess. I thought I was the only i guess "good person" who cared about people instead of myself. Now I know the spirit of Gobind Singh[chardi kala] __waho waho Gobind Singh appey guru chela__. I love sikhism I need a job to be able to wear bana I even have kurtas to paint,stain, work on cars,build houses. People dont look at me like if im bad like at Raleys all the people will like run over to me just to say high just to have me say Im doing good how about you and they start talking like im a doctor or something all through out the town now.But when I was at a red light once a disgusting old man tried to run my off the road and then knocked on my window wanting me to "get out" of my car,i touched my kirpan and felt now was not the time to knock this old racist man out,and all he did was make me stronger in Ill say Khalsaism.I educate everyone that talks to me because they cant bring race into it the know it some spirtual thing and they feel the vibe because of sadhana,kirtan,paath,etc{khalsaism. Now my life is so worth living and enjoying gods creation.. im going to take amrit in stockton,ca this april......also never shorten this ever ever ever EVER .';-WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA, WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH

Khalsa4ever said...

Amazing post jee! Its true, that being a Sikh means that we cannot have others judge us: we need to be strong and set in our convictions, especially those given to us by our Gurus. A great post!

sat dharm said...

Right on Prabhu!! I like your turban shift. I've also been wanting to change my turban style, I really would like to learn how to tie the turban style that ragis wear, however, I haven't found a place online to learn how to tie it. Plus, I'm also waiting to go either to India or to Vancouver to get the proper material. Here in Mexico, you don't get the same quality.

I feel the same about wearing bana everyday. It is a longing I have because it connects me with Guru's consciousness more easily, but again, I have to wait to go to India to get enough bana so I can wear it everyday. Particularly, I'm not afraid of what people might think about me. Many poeple here don't wear bana or even a turban because they don't want to be called names on the street or get weird looks. But I think it's better for both parts to show ourselves in full Guru's bana because then people will know our strength and gradually they will ask about us, and tehrefore, respect us. When I was studying business at the university, I was the only guy wearing a turban in a sea of students. At first, I thought "Gosh, this is going to be a huge challenge" (because the environment was very business and politically oriented). But the contrary happened, people were very open to know about me and my dharma. And at the end, I got many true friends and the respect of others. I stayed very firm of who I was and I think that make it possible.

Personally, I love to wear kurtas. I feel fresher and feel like the air actually gets into my body. It's not the same when I wear designer clothes. In a subtle level I even feel the difference in the way I relate to people.

It's amazing how our lifestyle is an incredible technology, effective and true.

Thanks for the link of maharaj suitings, I should contact them ahead of time when I plan to visit India.
Sat Nam ji, take care.

Pritam Singh Khalsa said...

I like wearing my Dastar round cause it will not come off, I could wrestle and not have it come off.Full Bana is a must.

Vicky Singh said...

I really Admire your courage and dedication :) You simply rocks !

Wow.. Never knew that there's sikh in Galt, CA too.. It's my next door town.. holla me anytime - "hvnt had amrit so ?singh said... " - userid.

Vicky Singh said...

Oh btw.. thats really amazing picture of yours in shawl all around.. really nice picture

SikhsRus said...

Great post! Great courage and integrity you show in wearing the bana! I am not there yet but working on it! I love reading your posts!

MyKarma said...

I can't believe there is a Sikh in Galt! Used to live there. Tell me more!