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Saturday, January 28, 2023

People have a lot of misconceptions about Neal Singh’s faith.

Singh, a UF pre-health senior who practices Sikhism, said people find his turban confusing.

To help change students’ perceptions about his faith, Singh said he will help tie turbans around students’ heads for Turban Day with the Sikh Student Association on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Turlington Plaza. Students can wear a turban, or a dastaar for women, to experience what it’s like for Sikhs to stand out and be different.

Singh said wearing his turban allows him to be humble, focused and disciplined.

“It represents commitment to my faith and identity,” he said.

One of the organizers, Sonia Sondhi, said the event aims to spread awareness of Sikhism and give students a chance to do something out of the ordinary by experiencing someone else’s culture.

The UF psychology junior said this is key to preventing hate crimes.

“Just two weeks ago a Sikh man was shot in the arm and told to go back to his country,” the 21-year-old said.

Growing up, she said she remembers girls being peer-pressured from their friends to cut their hair, which is sacred, and boys were beaten up in school because they looked different.

“I am Sikh,” she said. “Just by being different, I’ve learned to likewise understand people’s differences. I’ve learned the importance of standing against injustice anywhere — whether it be to a Muslim, Sikh — anyone.”

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