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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Bi-annual Turban Day educates students on Sikh customs

<p>Neal Singh, 24, a second-year dental student wraps Narayan Kulkarni's head in a Sikh turban as part of the Sikh Students Association bi-annual Turban Day.</p>

Neal Singh, 24, a second-year dental student wraps Narayan Kulkarni's head in a Sikh turban as part of the Sikh Students Association bi-annual Turban Day.

Although the weather was in the 80-degree range this afternoon, students lined up to wrap their heads in various colored Sikh turbans.

The 4-meter-long turbans were meant to educate students on the Sikh community and create mutual understanding as part of the UF Sikh Students Association’s bi-annual Turban Day on Wednesday, said Harshpreet Kaur, the organization’s president.

Kaur and the club’s president-elect, Sonia Sondhi, said they were hoping to clear any confusion between Sikhism and other religions like Islam and Hinduism. They wanted to inform students on some of Sikhism’s core values: equality, individuality and oneness.

“Especially after Sept. 11, the Sikhs went through a lot of hardships because people associated the turban with terrorists,” Sondhi said.

Sondhi and Kaur said Sikhs were called “towelhead,” “Osama bin Laden” and even “terrorist.”

Called a terrorist in the wake of Sept. 11, Narayan Kulkarni said he attended Turban Day to understand the struggles of some turban-wearers.

Kulkarni, a UF biology junior, wore a turban Wednesday and said that though some people treated him normally, others stared or narrowed their eyes.

“A lot of people thought I looked like a Muslim just because I was wearing a turban,” Kulkarni, 20, said.  

However, Sikh and Islam have different turban styles.

Kulkarni, who is Hindu, said it alarms him that some people have never heard of Sikhism, which makes the event necessary.

For some students, attending the event was a matter of broadening their perspective.

Nikoloff Rampersad, 19, comes from a Christian background but has family members who practice Hinduism and Sikhism. He said he loves learning about cultures other than his own.

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“I’ve never actually been wrapped, so I kind of wanted to see what it was like, what it feels like and maybe make my parents proud,” said Rampersad, a UF biology freshman.

Students who tried on a turban received a $5 Starbucks gift card. Everyone was welcome to Krispy Kreme donuts.

“Get out there and involve yourself in other cultures because it’s great,” Rampersad said. “You never know, you might find something that you like.”

Neal Singh, 24, a second-year dental student wraps Narayan Kulkarni's head in a Sikh turban as part of the Sikh Students Association bi-annual Turban Day.

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