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US Sikhs celebrate ‘Turban Day’

New York, April 8: Thousands of turbans were on the heads of people from different races, religions and tiolities in the city’s Times Square as Sikhs launched the annual series of Turban Day events to promote understanding of their faith and dispel stereotypes about the piece of attire. On Saturday, volunteers from Sikhs of New York organisation 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. “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.” Turban Day events were being held as civil rights organisation, the Sikh Coalition, reports a spike in hate crimes against members of the faith. It said last month that Sikhs “are experiencing an average of one hate crime per week since the start of 2018” and added that “this figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg as many individuals of hate crimes do not report them to law enforcement or the Sikh Coalition”. American media has created a stereotype of turban-wearing terrorists, which has come to haunt the Sikh community. Rajwant Singh, a founder of the tiol Sikh Coalition, said that the polls conducted by his organisation “found out that turban causes anxiety among many Americans”. “A large number (of Americans) has no understanding what it stands for and they associate it with extremism whereas it stands for equality and harmony,” he said. “Turban Day provides an opportunity for Americans and all non-Sikhs to experience wearing it and familiarise themselves with fellow Sikh Americans. It breaks ice and forms bond with strangers.” (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita