What the Sikh Turban Means
Today, and for the last 500 years, many Sikhs around the world have worn the turban as an expression of their faith and their commitment to serve humanity. Throughout history, Sikhs have worn the turban to signal their readiness to protect all people against injustice, regardless of faith, gender, caste, or color.
Today, a Sikh American who wears a turban signal that he or she is always ready to put him- or herself forward to serve the community’s needs. It represents their commitment to equality, unity, and service that are at the heart of the American ethic.
99% of people you see wearing a turban in America are Sikhs.
The History of the Sikh Turban
In the late 17th century, rampant religious intolerance and political tyranny posed a threat to the very existence of the Sikh community and other faith communities. To foster a renewed sense of courage within the Sikh community, the final Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa — an institution embodying the moral responsibilities of a Sikh for protecting the oppressed and protecting equality for all people.
To ensure divisions of caste meant nothing in the Khalsa, all men -- regardless of their caste -- were instructed to wear the turban, an article of clothing only reserved for the highest status people in the society.
Further to each individual who joined the Khalsa was forced to drop their last name, which often indicated their caste and was given a common last name, Singh (meaning lion) for men or Kaur (meaning princess) for women. Women were asked not to adopt the last names of their husbands to ensure women were seen as individuals with value and identities existing independently of their relationships with men.
Women were asked not to adopt the last names of their husbands to ensure women were seen as individuals with value and identities existing independently of their relationships with men.