Turban Up ties together the community and education in the Sikh faith

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Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

The Waterloo-Laurier Sikh Students’ Association, in partnership with the Waterloo-Laurier Punjabi Association, hosted their fourth annual “Turban Up” event in the concourse on Mar. 27, an event that aims to educate other students on the Sikh faith and the importance of the turban.

Participants had a member from the Sikh Students’ Association tie a turban on them in proper technique, they explained to them why it is significant in the Sikh faith and how their religion operates.

“The idea behind Turban Up is to tie the turban on people to get awareness as to why people wear the turban, that way we can tell people the importance behind tying a turban and the belief system behind that, getting them aware of the Sikh faith in general,” said Pavneet Singh, an executive member of the Laurier Sikh Students’ Association.

“This event has been happening for a few years; every year, we pick the springtime to do it during lunchtime, we set up a stall and advertise it and have people come. We want to keep an open mindset towards everything — to have an open concept — so anyone who wants to come and learn more about it can learn.”

The clubs hosted a fundraiser alongside the event selling donuts for their club, as the actual Turban Up event was free for all participants to come and learn about the reason that some students on campus are seen wearing the turban.

The event has grown to a provincial level: the Sikh Youth Federation now holds a Turban Up festival at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto every year to spread further awareness of the Sikh faith and why the turban is significant in their religion.

“We’ve had some great success with this event. We’ve had some professors come and tie turbans, we’ve had a lot of students come by coming from both Laurier and Waterloo to stop by — it’s been super successful in that regard. It’s just that sometimes, during lunchtime, we get them the most so we try to get everyone involved even when it’s busy,” Singh said.

The event was started by a student at the University of Waterloo who was a victim of racism due to the fact that he wore a turban. The student had been at a McDonald’s and had a cup thrown at him as well as racial slurs said, all due to his faith.

“I think the main bottleneck is that people just don’t know — its aligned towards people’s perspective. If you want to be able to learn, you will have that open mindset to learning, [so] we try to reach out to people who are willing to learn about the religion,” Singh said.

“The more you learn about it, you’ll realize it’s not really crazy, it’s more of a monistic faith: we believe in one God, we believe to serve everyone else, so those core concepts that are applicable to the world in general.”

The event has grown to a provincial level: the Sikh Youth Federation now holds a Turban Up festival at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto every year to spread further awareness of the Sikh faith and why the turban is significant in their religion.

“It’s not something that’s new — it’s been around for hundreds of years, so we just want to be able to relay that to everyone else,” Singh said.

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