A new book titled “Turbanology: Guide to Sikh Identity” unravels the meaning of identity for Sikhs and chronicles the significance of their symbols of faith at a time when they have become misunderstood.
The book aims to tackle such ignorance by providing – for the first time – a narrative history of the turban, which has been an integral element of Sikh identity since the founding of the faith by the first Guru Nanak Dev ji in 1469.
The issues affecting Sikhs worldwide today have been researched and written by journalist Jay Singh-Sohal who has spent the past three years working on raising awareness of Sikh identity through the “Turbanology” Arts Council project. He recently lent his expertise in the BBC1 documentary: “The Story of the Turban”.
“Over the past decade there’s been a decline in how much people understand about why Sikhs look different and it’s manifested itself in horrific ways. Sikhs have been verbally and physically abused, called names such a ‘terrorist’ and ‘bin Laden’ and suffered because of it. There’s been a rise in racially motivated hate crimes in Britain, Europe and the United States – most recently in the shocking killings in Wisconsin at a Sikh place of worship. Even in India, young people are turning away from the physical essence of their faith in order be less conspicuous.”
“Turbanology: Guide to Sikh Identity” raises awareness of Sikh identity for a non-Sikh audience as well as helps young Sikhs take pride in the ways they look different. Keeping hair is an important part of Sikh observance as it shows submission to the will of God.
The book also addresses increasing issues of human rights breeches when it comes to security at European airports. In 2010, EU regulations were introduced which enabled the manual searching of turbans resulting in Sikhs travelling through Europe being harassed and disrespected.
It includes eminent scientist Shaminder Singh Puri who is currently fighting a case against the Polish Border Guard Service for a breach of his human rights after he was made to remove his turban and place it on a security scanner. He will hear on 21st December 2012 whether he has won or not.
He said: "This book is a much awaited resource of very useful information that needs to be made accessible to the general public, but more importantly to those in responsible positions who need to make decisions concerning the well-being of diverse communities."
Singh-Sohal said: “I wanted to tackle this issue head on by writing about why Sikh identity is so distinct and unique. The aim is that by compiling a guide in this way for the first time, we can raise more awareness about the importance of Sikh faith principles as well as how the community worldwide is being affected.”
The book was released on Amazon Kindle and the Kindle app for mobile devices on 1st December 2012. The print edition will follow a month later.