Turban Historically

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In India and central Asia, the turban, or Dastar, as it is called in Persian, carries a totally different connotation from that of a hat in Europe. The turban represents respectability, and was a sign of nobility. An aristocrat, whether a Mughal noble man or a Hindu Rajput, could be distinguished by his turban.

A Persian saying at that time was "a person’s status could be judged from three things: Raftar, Dastar, and Guftar. Raftar meant his mannerisms and body language. Dastar literally meant, his attire, including of course, his turban. Guftar meant his manner of speaking." Those who were downtrodden did not have the means to aspire to display aristocratic attire, nor were they allowed to, even if they had the means. The Hindu Rajputs were the only Hindus allowed to wear ornate turbans, carry weapons and have their mustache and beard.

Also at this time, only the Rajputs could have Singh as their second name. Even the Gurus did not have Singh as part of their name, until the Tenth Guru. It was in this background that Guru Gobind Singh, decided to turn the tables on the ruling aristocracy by making every Sikh carry a sword, take up the name Singh, and have his kesh (hair) and turban displayed boldly, without any fear, and thereby feel at par with the rulers. In historical documents of the time, Guruji urges the Sikhs to come to him with at least five weapons displayed on his person, and bring horses, which are things that would be expected of an aristocratic warrior, not the common peasants and the low caste humble population.

With this background, the turban is seen as the celebration of that psychological and historical upliftment of humble human beings who fearlessly offered their mind and soul to Waheguru, the Eternal Being, and paraded themselves as His nobility.