Thousands of people from the New York region came together to the city’s iconic Times Square to celebrate ‘Turban Day in Times Square’ relishing the experience of having a turban wrapped around their head by enthusiastic volunteers who took the opportunity to raise awareness about Sikh faith and culture.
The event was organized by Sikhs of New York in association with the Consulate General of India in New York. Turban Day, which started in 2013 at Baruch College, is celebrated annually to spread awareness about the Sikh community and promote its culture and identity. Chanpreeet Singh, co-founder of Sikhs of New York, told PTI that more than 38,000 turbans have been tied in the past seven years.
Sikhs in the United States have borne the burden of post-9/11 hate crime and Sikh children experience continue to experience bullying in schools according to organizations that have been active around the country and engaged law enforcement to help prevent verbal and physical violence on the Sikhs. One of the worst incidents of violence was the Aug. 5, 2012 massacre at the Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin by a White supremacist. And just days after 9/11, a Sikh man in Arizona was shot dead as reprisal for the attack on the World Trade Towers in New York City.
This was the 7th year of Turban Day, and according to Sikhs of New York, the main organizers of the event, to date 38,000 turbans have been tied, the event has received 1 million live views; reached more than 12 million digitally, and receives massive international coverage. More than 10,000 volunteers have come forward to help out over the years. Anjleen Kaur of the National Sikh Campaign which collaborated with Sikhs of New York to organize the day in the Big Apple, told the media. “What Turban Day really represents is justice and equality.”
This time round there was an added incentive. Renowned ice-cream makers Ben & Jerry’s joined the Turban Day campaign, putting it on their social media sites. and giving out coupons for their delicious scoops. At the event, Ben & Jerry’s gave away coupons to some 500 lucky New Yorkers, Kaur said.
Deputy Consul General of India in New York Shatrughna Sinha said the Consulate is commemorating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak with Gurubani recital programs.
As part of the commemoration of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary as well as to mark Baisakhi, this year the Consulate associated with The Sikhs of NY on Turban Day, Sinha said.
“This is a great environment and ambience and the crowd is fantastic,” Mr Sinha said, sporting a blue turban as he took part in the commemoration. There is no better way than this to raise awareness about Sikhism as well as propagating the message of universal brotherhood and humanity of Guru Nanak Dev ji,” he told PTI.
Sikhs of New York co-founder Chanpreet Singh said in the seven years that Turban Day has been organized in the city, there has increasingly been awareness about Sikhism, not just through people who are getting turbans tied but by the thousands others on social media following the event.