NEW YORK: The growing community of Sikhs here, who can be instantly identified by their turbans as part of their faith, set a new record of tying the maximum number of turbans at an event organised in New York on Saturday.
The event called Turban Day, organised by a Sikh organisation called “Sikhs of New York, was held at the Times Square, the world’s hottest landmark which, on any given day, attracts hordes of American and foreign tourists amid the glittering colourful and eye-catching neon signboards that adorn the neighbourhood.
A representative of “Sikhs of New York” told Bernama that a world record had been set by tying “thousands of turbans within a few hours”, with the symbolic tying of turbans serving as a tool to raise awareness about the Sikh faith against the backdrop of incidents of hate crimes against turban-clad Sikhs by perpetrators ignorant of the faith.
The Turban Day has been institutionalised since 2013 as an annual event and is held to coincide with the Vaisakhi festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community – known as the Khalsa – on April 14.
This year the day-long New York event was held a week earlier.
Chanpreet Singh, the founder of the non-profit organisation, told journalists that some 9,000 turbans had been tied, setting a world record for tying the record number of turbans in just a few hours. He said that turbans were tied on visitors regardless of age, colour, gender or race, adding that these represented both Sikh and American core values.
Indeed, the Guinness World Record gave a certification to the organisation for the “most turbans tied in 8 hours was achieved by Sikhs of NY (USA) in Times Square in New York, the USA on April 7, 2018.”
Hundreds of volunteers representing the Sikh community patiently helped out by tying colourful turbans on the amused visitors – New Yorkers, tourists and Americans – flocking to Times Square.
The volunteers used their interaction with the visitors to explain facts about the Sikh religion, its customs and culture.
The turban has often been misunderstood and linked with terrorism, particularly after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Sikhs have faced prejudices and even violent attacks from Americans who mistook them for terrorists and religious extremists.
Besides the turban-tying part of the event, Turban Day also had colourful cultural and musical presentations.
“This educational endeavour would not be possible without our hundreds of volunteers and supporters of the Turban Day,” Singh said.
Last year, Congressman Gregory Meeks of the 5th Congressional District of New York had issued a declaration proclaiming April 15, 2017, as ‘Turban Day’, praising the work of “The Sikhs of New York” in educating other communities about the Sikh faith.
Many Americans, wearing the turban headgear on Turban Day, walked around the Times Square taking selfie pictures of themselves and also posing with friends and relatives.
John Chow, a visiting Hong Kong Chinese tourist, proudly sported his light-blue coloured turban as his wife took his photograph with the iconic Times Square serving as the backdrop. “We do have Sikhs in Hong Kong and other parts of Southeast Asia but we do not know them so well. This is the first time that a Sikh has approached me and offered to tie the turban. It is good to know more about their customs and faith,” Chow told Bernama, adding that he felt “extremely sorry that Sikhs were targeted in hate crimes because of their turban”