Why do boys wear "Turban"? Why can't they keep their hair hanging down like English people? Also, male Sikhs tie turbans; why not female?

Covering their heads by people is an age old world custom. It was generally considered good culture and respectable behavior for all social, formal, and religious functions. Some people keep this tradition even today. Orthodox Jews keep a small cap on their head. A Christian bride during her wedding covers her head and face by a veil. In some churches, Christians attend the congregation with their heads covered. During a Hindu marriage, the groom always ties a turban and the bride keeps her head (usually her face as well) covered with a veil. All Rajputs, with or without long hair, who were the ruling class and fighters, kept a turban on their heads.

"Pugree", the turban, was tied during the pre Sikh period in almost all of Indian. It was considered royal attire. High Muslim officials wore turbans. Respect and turbans went together. A man without a turban was considered a lowly, poor person. Tying a turban meant the wearer was a responsible and honorable person.

In the recent past, an uncovered head of a person, particularly a priest or any other responsible person, meant something bad had happened, usually a death in the family. A very interesting folk tale will help to explain it.

A Brahman went out for a morning bath in the river as usual. After a quick dip, he came running home forgetting his turban there. His wife, seeing him coming without a turban on his head, started crying, assuming someone had died. When the Brahman came into the house, finding his wife weeping, he also started weeping aloud. This set everybody who came there, weeping. When they stopped, one member asked, "Who is dead?" The lady said the Brahman knows it because he came home without turban. The Brahman immediately uttered, "Oh! Where is my turban? Yes. I forget it at the river in the morning. The water was very cold and it was windy." A turban was expected never to be forgotten by a respectable or a religious person.

For the Sikhs, it is a religious symbol rather than merely a social symbol of honor. We cannot copy other cultures in leaving the hair unattached or hanging down. We also cannot cut our hair. There is only one way to keep the hair; that is to tie it on your head and cover it with a pugree.

Females are allowed to wear turbans. Even when they wear turbans, the Punjab tradition requires that they keep their scarf (chunni) on their shoulders to cover the upper part of the body as a matter of graceful dressing. Traditionally, some women wear a slightly different kid of small turban called Keski, which holds the hair on the head. The males also wear a small turban on their heads when staying inside the house. In public, however, they are always expected to wear a normal size turban.


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