By Grace Dille
The Sikh Student Association gathered in Hornbake Plaza on March 28 to eradicate the stigma behind turbans and educate students about Sikhism.
At the annual Turbans For Terps event, the Sikh Student Association offered students free turban tying, Indian food and information about Sikhism, which is the fifth largest religion in the world, and originates from Punjab, India.
“There’s this huge stigma when people see someone wearing a turban. They’re scared, they feel threatened, and it’s just so foreign to them, they don’t know what it is,” said Gujri Chadha, secretary of the Sikh Student Association. “This event is to show, first of all, that it’s literally a piece of cloth, and obviously it does mean a lot more than just a piece of cloth to us.”
By wearing a turban, Chadha said, Sikhs are promoting equality, taking care of their hair which they don’t cut, and allowing other Sikhs to identify them. Traditionally, Sikh men wear turbans, but women may also wear them if they wish, according to Chadha.
Angad Babra, a member of the Sikh Student Association, said a lot of people don’t know that 99 percent of people who wear turbans are Sikh.
“People see someone with a turban and think, ‘Oh, that’s person’s Muslim, or that person’s Hindu,’ but Sikhism is completely different,” Babra said. “It’s its own religion.”
Sikhs live by their core beliefs of monotheism, service to others, spirituality, sharing and honest living, according to Jagjot Kaur, a board member of Sikh Student Association.
The Sikh Student Association, which currently has about 62 members, is trying to educate non-Sikhs about their religion and hopefully ease any discomfort people may have when they see a turban, according to Babra.
Krishna Shah, a senior biology major, is not Sikh, but said she has attended the event for the past two years because she has many friends who are.
“A lot of the times, you see Sikh men especially, because of their turban, being discriminated against…called terrorists or ugly names — when there’s no correlation between having a turban and doing evil things,” Shah said. “I think it’s just a misconception that happens way too much in society.”
Another non-Sikh attendee was senior psychology major, Elizabeth Rios-Mujica, who said she did not know much about Sikhism before attending this event.
“I’m now associating turbans more with the Sikh religion, which I didn’t really know before,” Rios-Mujica said.