Letter to the Editor

The article "Sikh Religion and Culture" by Nirmal K. Singh, was much awaited in view of the recent cases of mistaken identity and hence hate crimes against Sikhs in America. Some of the facts about Sikh religion mentioned in this article were rather confusing and incorrect.

Sikh religion was born in Northwestern India, on the philosophies of Guru Nanak and evolved through the course of nine more Gurus (Masters) culminating into the birth of organized Sikh faith on the day of Vaisakhi in 1699. Sikh religion requires its followers to be saint soldiers and to keep their hair, beard unshorn (as a saint), wear iron bracelets (as soldiers). Sikhs wear turban which is neatly tied and is pointed on the top as opposed to Osama bin Laden's turban which is loosely worn and is round.

I am making this point as this was the reason why a Sikh was mistaken as Arab and killed in Mesa, Ariz. Interestingly 99.9% of the people wearing turban in America are Sikhs, not Arabs.

On the origin of turban I strongly disagree with Nirmal. First, our ancestors were not trying to convert people and Hindus did not run into the forest to hide. Sikh religion does not ask for forceful conversions. Entry into Sikh faith is not easy and carries the price of standing out in the crowd by wearing turban and supporting a beard. Sikh turban is a symbol of royalty, strength and purity. In medieval India, only kings and royalty was allowed to wear turban. Founders of Sikh religion gave their followers royalty by asking them to wear turbans and being equal to the kings.

Sikh religion believes in equality of all human beings and service towards humanity and it has become much more relevant in present conditions.