Tying Turbans to Unravel the Mystery Around Sikh Culture
By Brittany Evins
A program seeking to remove the mystery around turbans is also helping answer curious students’ questions, while beginning a conversation around Sikh culture.
Schools and businesses around the country have used the Turbans and Trust program as an educational tool, with many South Australian schools running the program as part of their curriculum.
The hands-on program even included tying turbans on students to help demystify the headwear — and the Sikh culture.
But Turbans and Trust educator Pam Singh said a vague uniform policy in South Australia had caused problems for some Sikh families who felt they had been discriminated against due to their cultural beliefs.
“We had an issue with our own daughter at one of the schools where the school didn’t recognise one of the five articles of faith as being a significant thing to our faith that we don’t consider as jewellery,” Ms Singh said.
Practising or confirmed Sikhs are expected to wear the five articles of faith at all times, as commanded by the 10th Guru, Gobind Singh.
These items, also known as the five Ks, are: Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (an iron bracelet), Kangha (a wooden comb), Kachera (special underwear), and Kirpan (a ceremonial sword).
“It was a very long process for the school to understand that this is actually very important to us … and is actually an article of faith that we see as part of ourselves and not separate from ourselves.”
She was hopeful the state’s uniform policy would be amended to ensure students could wear whatever their faith required them to.
“I think the biggest thing is educating diversity and educating people on the fact that we need to treat each other equally,” Ms Singh said
“That’s why we run this program, so people aren’t scared and aren’t fearful.”
“Once they have information and knowledge then they can accept and understand why we wear turbans and why we do look a little bit different,” she said.
Schools supportive of program
Rich with colour and cultural meaning, turbans are a common but widely misunderstood.
With the largest Sikh population in regional South Australia, Riverland schools have been supportive of the program, finding a place for it in their curriculum.
“Acknowledging the diversity of people not only within our own school, but our community, and I suppose even our own country, and having a real acceptance of that,” Our Lady of the River principal Ros Oates said.
Year 6 student, Ella, said she believed the program was important for schools to take part in.
“Yes cause everyone is equal and it’s just kind of weird to leave out someone.
Courtesy of wwww.abc.net.au