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Helen's pearl 3 - All terrorists!

My father pointed out the other day “Did you see that? Trump has not put India on his list of banned countries for visa! To what I replied that he had obviously not yet done the maths and I would like to be there when he realises that there is the equivalent of one third of the American population of Muslims in India. Trump wanted to stop terrorists coming from Muslim-majority countries – except that none of the 7 countries has perpetrated any terrorist act against the United States in the past 15 years (since Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. are not part of this list) (source). There is undeniably an imbroglio between Islam and terrorism, and at the highest level.

A few days later, I was commenting on this discussion with my Indian colleagues. Because I have been thinking that Modi and Trump could be good pals. After all I am pretty sure that the Indian Prime Minister (quite a Hindu extremist) would love to have his wall also, between the India and Pakistan! And he also likes to ban stuff, no more beef, no more porn, no more old notes, no more this, no more that. This led my colleague to conclude that to be re-elected, he would really have to do something “for the people”. And me (naively): “Is it so? Like building houses?” Mr. (Modi) Clean has built 25 million toilets in 2 years, to eradicate open defecation in public (source); so building houses must be good for the people? But no, what the people want is not toilet or houses, it is “the war declared to Pakistan, even nuking them would be better”.  

The same evening, after a long day of work, my nanny, well my son’s nanny really, decided to give me her opinion on terrorism. I must say I was listening with only one ear. But I know she resents terrorists because she’s afraid that due to the recent events she won’t get a tourist visa to go work in the United States, after 10 years of waiting for a job offer she just finally got. I was hearing some words: “terrorists, bike, young children, mattresses”. As I was not reacting, she went to get some newspaper clipping and she waved it under my nose: “No, but can you believe that, how do they dare enrolling young children in these terrorist activities?”


- “But, Helen, these people, they are fleeing terrorism it!” (She had obviously missed reading the legend).

- “Really??? Are you sure? But they look like terrorists don’t they?”

- “But Helen! All Muslims are not terrorists...!”

Helen wrapped up article, not really convinced.

The people have spoken... ;(


Why in India some people don't cut their hair and wear a turban?

 Sites dedicated to Sikhism explain that hair is a gift from God and therefore you don’t alter it (1). Moreover hair is beautiful (as any gift from God) then the longer the more beautiful. 

That said, I am more and more convinced that any tradition or belief has a practical origin. As a matter of fact, if the Sikh religion appeared in 1469, emerging from the dominant religions (Hinduism and Islam), it is only in 1699 that cutting hair was forbidden (2). Now it so happens that at that time Sikhs were cornered: they had to give up non-violence (a founding principle of this religion) and take up arms against the Muslims who persecuted them (just as they were forcing Hindus to convert). As the Muslims wore beards – also certainly for practical reasons: “Act against the polytheists,” said Muhammad. “Carefully size your moustache and let yourself grow a beard.”(3) – and Hindus were moustachioed. To differentiate themselves (on the battle ground and otherwise) they had only two options left: leave it all or cut it all (but then it’s a lot of maintenance)... 


And why the turban?  


Long hair may be beautiful but it is not practical. Especially you are fighting and everything. Therefore, “the turban is in all respects a very convenient headgear; it is even more advantageous during war that our hats, because what they fall less easily, and can more easily prepare a blow of cutting edge”. (4) In addition it protects hair from the dust. And women can manage however they want (without a turban)... 


But you must know that all turbaned men in India are not necessarily Sikh.

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For example, the Rajasthani (top right) people, originally farmers and shepherds living in a mostly desert region, protect their head with a turban. Which varies in shape, size (even if it is usually 8-9 meter long (5)), material, colour and designs according to the wealth, caste and region of the wearer or the occasion. 

Men wear turbans during weddings (top left).

And many janitors in big hotels or restaurants servers wear a turban (bottom left). In my opinion this practice dates from the colonial time when the Britishers must have found it classy to dress up their servants like that...  

Morality, the turban does not (only) make the Sikh! 

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Subsidiary questions: How do Sikhs manage at the swimming pool with their turbans? How can Sikhs wear a helmet when on a bike? How do Sikhs pass airport security with their kirpan (dagger (2))? 


At the pool, they take off their turbans but keep the piece of cloth thindia,hair,religion,sikh,turban,long hair,beard,moustache,turbaned,sikhism,islam,hinduism,guru,gobind singh,five kakas,kakas,rajasthani,name,singh kaur,warriors,kirpan,airport,motorcycle,helmet,sportat covers their hair and makes them look like Smurfs and they avoid putting their head under water. Same thing when they play any sport. 

The regulation regarding helmet-wearing in India is a bit complicated, since it varies from one State to another. In Delhi for example, it is not compulsory for women to wear a helmet! And in Punjab and Haryana where there is a majority of Sikhs, wearing a helmet is simply optional. As a rule, Sikhs are not forced to wear helmets (which are too small to accommodate the turban!). 

The Constitution of 1971 permits Sikhs to carry the kirpan in India. As for air-traveling, the kirpan is only allowed in a check-in luggage!  


And why do all Sikhs bear the name Singh (men) and Kaur (women)? 


Sikhism is an egalitarian religion, condemning discrimination based on gender or caste. Since in India, family names refer to caste, religion, region of origin, profession (yes all this! and it's hyper-complicated!), Sikhs use their ‘middle name’ as a surname. ‘Lion’ for men (Singh) and ‘Princess’ for women (Kaur).  


But beware, the name Singh does not (only) make the Sikh. 

There are people by the name Singh that are not Sikh. How to make things simple when they can be complicated? J 



(2) Guru Gobind Singh (last of the 10 gurus who have developed the Sikh doctrine) has imposed the 5 kakas (5 K): hair and beard never cut (kesh) and retained by a comb (Adriana) symbolizing neatness, a metal bracelet (kara), military breeches (kachha) and a dagger (kirpan). Source:;, 7928403.php  


(4) & id = 640409723 


Other sources: ;