Thousands of turbans were on the heads of people from different races, religions and nationalities as the non-profit Sikhs of New York held Turban Day 2018- Times Square– A Vaisakhi Celebration.” The Sikh community’s this annual initiative held on April 7th in New York City this year, has been launched to promote understanding of their faith and dispel stereotypes about the piece of attire as the main stream media and the whole world watched live and live-streaming of the event via social media.
Volunteers from Sikhs of New York organization tied turbans on the heads of visitors while explaining its significance for Sikhs and telling them about their religion, which is probably the most misunderstood faith in the US.
Thousands who came to enjoy the show also participated in turban tying, so that a new Guinness World Record for the “Most Turbans tied in 8 hours” was set at Times Square. Representatives from Guinness World Records were present to judge the turban tying, and awarded the recognition based on their first-hand witnessing of the event. And Sikhs of New York also received a citation from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the organization announced in a press release.
Intense and pulsing Punjabi beats filled the air in Times Square as many including famous food lover Varli Singh and her family, joined the celebration, dancing and raising their voice in some “balle balle” showing off the newly-tied turbans. So many who came got turbans tied so that Times Square turned into waves of color as if Holi was being played, but this time with long pieces of colorful cloth artfully wrapped on the head.
As some volunteers were asking the public whether anyone wanted to get a Turban tied for free, other volunteers were holding up signs with the names and photos of important Indian-American Sikhs to further educate New Yorkers and tourists about Sikhs and their contributions worldwide.
“The reason we are having this event is to spread awareness that people with turban on their heads are Sikhs,” said Gagandeep Singh, one of the event’s organizers from Sikhs of New York. “We explain why Sikhs tie turbans, what a turban stands for. It gives you a responsibility. If a person needs help, a person with a turban is supposed to help them,” he said, adding that this was the sixth edition of the event and the people’s response has been amazing.
“Really enjoyed celebrating #TurbanDay in NYC today. Event intended to demystify Sikh turban and educate general public about the Sikh community. Honored by the very warm welcome from so many in the Sikh community” Bhalla tweeted on the evening of April 7 with a bunch of photos showing how much fun he had with his family at the event.
Sikhs of New York has been hosting Turban Day since 2013 to raise awareness about the fifth largest religion whose followers began coming to the U.S. during the British Raj in India about 125 years ago. Despite their long history in this country, Sikhs remain the least understood minority among Indian-American immigrants in this country, and have borne the brunt of hate crimes and attacks on South Asians since 9/11.