I love it when I see articles in major newspapers covering issues important to the Sikh community. I’m always hopeful they’ll be positive reflections; however, this article didn’t necessarily bring out the warmest of emotions. Rather, it left me feeling hurt and worried.

Popularity contests, apathy, and laziness are the leading forces behind why one of the most conspicuous emblems of our faith is nearing extinction. Sadly, I don’t think I’m exaggerating. A sense of deep concern is reverberating through our community as seen by the number of Sikh revivalism schemes flourishing as of recent. Young Sikhs can visit “turban clinics” to learn how to tie fashionable turbans. A CD titled Smart Turban 1.0 is being marketed to the technologically hip. “Mr. Singh International Pageants” are being held to celebrate the accomplishments of model Gursikhs.

The gurus taught us to embody an independent spirit by maintaining a unique appearance. A sense of duty, responsibility, and respect naturally follows with the adoption of this identity. It seems that these remarkable and forward-thinking teachings alone are not enough to motivate our youth.

Why do we need to market our article of faith as a fashion statement in order for young Sikhs to keep their kesh and wear a turban? Why can’t we simply accept and respect our unshorn hair as a part of God’s design? Why are we blinded by embarrassment and the need to conform instead of seeing our turban as a crown and symbol of wisdom, power, and knowledge? To single out men and place them at fault alone wouldn’t be fair: what has happened to our mothers, our strongest female presence, who are vital in raising proud young Gursikhs? What are our mothers teaching our daughters, the next wave of women responsible for raising the next generation of young Gursikhs?

As long as our community addresses this issue as one that is complex and demanding of our attention, I think we’ll be okay. This isn’t going to be as easy as tossing in a couple of pills to get rid of an annoying headache. A much more not-so-tasty regimen will be needed to reverse this self-created and self-destructive pathology.

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