Norway Goes the Turban Way – by Sumeet Singh Patpatia
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The Vaisakhi 2012 celebration in Oslo (Norway) was a week full of different activities. It reached its peek on Saturday the 14th of April when hundreds of Sikhs marched through the main street of Oslo, and over 1500 Norwegians wore turbans in all imaginable colours. Oslo was suddenly transformed to something that reminded of a gurpurabh in India. Yet, here over a 1500 Norwegians were involved as well.
Sikhs in Norway
The first Sikhs arrived in Norway in the beginning of the 1970´s. Since then Vaisakhi has been celebrated here. Of course, the celebration has gone through several milestones. For instance, when the first Gurdwara was established in1984 (Oslo), and the first time Sikhs marched through the main street of Oslo.This year the Nagar Kirtan ended up at Rådhusplassen (Town Hall square, in the middle of central Oslo) where different activities were held and langar was served. One of the main activities is the Norwegian Turban Day.
The Norwegian Turban Day
In 2010 a group of young Norwegian Sikhs felt that even though the Nagar Kirtan is extremely beautiful, the point of walking through central Oslo fade away when we forget to actively invite the Norwegians (non-Sikhs). People not familiar to Sikhism observe a lot of turbans, long beards, kirpans and hear us screaming something they can’t understand. Those who aren´t used to this might find it bit scary. Having this in mind, UngeSikher (Young Sikhs) under Gurudwara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji – Oslo, decided to do something, and arranged the first Norwegian Turban Day in 2010.It was a great success.
This year The Norwegian Turban Day was held for the third time.Several tents were put up at the Town Hall square and the guests went through a route consisting of several posts.When they leave the tent they are told to show the turban respect if they want to keep it. In the tent we hang up posters and photos of Sikhs that provide information about Sikhism. Not least,representatives from Young Sikhs are there to break the barriers.
The excitement and positive feedback from the guests was enormous. Not only did several thousand people visit us, but over 1500 tried and kept their turbans. Can you imagine in a small town as Oslo, how the cityscape suddenly changes when over 1500 Norwegians from 2-90 years walk around in the city with colourful turbans! In a time where Sikh turbans are unfamiliar and seen as scary it is important to invite the rest of the society and make them understand that even though you wear a turban you are not scary. We were also very happy with the media coverage this year. Almost all the big newspapers and TV-channels covered The Turban Day. Thus, we reached out to several hundred thousand people.
The aim of the Norwegian Turban Day is to take back the definition known in the society and to re-launch the turban as a symbol of solidarity, equality and religious freedom. The past years have been characterized of prejudices in the public debate, not least; there is growing tendency of polarizations in the society. With The Turban Day we wish to make it safe to wear the turban, and contribute to reducing the gap between Sikhs and the society.
Many people don’t actually know a Sikh and therefore have several prejudices towards Sikhs. Those who come to The Turban Day get to know new Sikhs at every post. This way we hope to break the barriers and the prejudices.
Click Here or image to view photos from Turbandagen – Photographer Martin Johansen. Please allow popup window
Visit www.turbandagen.no – here you see the video from last year. Under “Bruksanvisning” you can see a Video Tutorial.
To find more photos taken by akam1k3, Michael Ray VC Angeles Click Here
Author Sumeet Singh Patpatia at Vaisakhi 2012 -OSLO