Turban Tying Event at the Rubin Museum (New York)

Here is an interesting story by Inni Kaur (NY) who has been involved with the Rubin Museum which currently has a great exhibit of Sikh Art. They have been having quite a few different activities at the museum to educate people about Sikhs. The below event was one of these activities. If you are in or near New York…you should definitely go check it out!

Sadh Sangat ji: I wish you were there to experience the turban tying session at the Rubin Museum (New York) – I thought that the Sangeet program was great and we would not be able to top that – but I was wrong – the turban tying program was just amazing. There defintely was a "Higher Hand" that watched over this event.

I had expected about 10 people (mostly children) – so we were set up in the small room. The woman who runs this series called in sick so I scrambled around to find the things to set up. We barely were ready by 2 pm and low and behold – when I opened the doors – I was stunned. We had about 60 people waiting out side. Immediately we went into Plan B and moved everything into the theatre.

I was thrilled to see Sat Jivan Siingh Khalsa come with his students to the program. On my request he spoke about the significance of the turban.

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Sat Jivan Singh talking to everyone about the significance of the turban

The audience was of mature adults ages late 20’s to 40’s – we had about 6 children.

Then came the part where I had organized 3 Sikh boys – from NJ, Westchester and CT. They showed the audience how to tie the turban and the patka and Angad Raj from CT undid his hair (he has the most beautiful long hair – I am so jealous) – the audience just could not believe the length and asked wonderful questions of the 3 boys – the loved the way the boys did their hair in a top knot.

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Manvir Singh tying turban on stage with Angadraj Singh holding mirror 

Then came the part where I invited the audience to try their hand at turban tying. I had 50 pastel coloured turban ordered from India and 50 patkas – well I have none left – the stage was packed with people wanting to wear a turban.

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I was overwhelmed with the response – by Guru’s Grace there were also young college going Sikhs in the audience – who jumped in to help with the turban tying. I wish I knew there names – but that is the Khalsa spirit – they saw the need and just responded so willingly – they were fantastic. I think we all knew that we were experiencing something quite wonderful. With turbans tied they went up to the gallery floor and saw the exhibit and they all were thrilled with the fact that they could keep the turbans.

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The young girls has their hair braided with parandhais and I had some bindis for them also. They loved the shiny gold things in their hair.

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Inni Kaur weaving a pardhi in Simran Kaur’s hair 

All is all – it was a magical afternoon and I truly wish you were there to experience what I experienced.

At times we wonder has this exhibition been worth the effort and I say over and over again – ‘YES YES and YES!‘.

I have had parents thank me with tears rolling – their children remember the saakhis through the art – at times as parents we wonder whether they will remember what we are saying – but somewhere deep within them – they do – it is heart warming to see the reaction of the children – they are overjoyed to see the art and the explanation on the walls.

There are 2 more Saturday afternoon programs left. I strongly urge parents with children between 5 -10 years of age to go to the next one. It is story telling by an American and she is sharing stories of Guru Nanak. The children will remember this – trust me – so please make the effort and go. It is from 2 pm to 3.30pm.

I know this is long but I really wanted to share with you what all has been happening."

 – Gur Fateh Inni Kaur

Photo Credits: Special thanks to the photographer Jane Kung for permission to use the above pictures from the event in this blog post. 

I See No Stranger: Early Sikh Art and Devotion
September 18, 2006 through January 29, 2007
Rubin Museum of Art, New York City
Sikhs live in the popular imagination – they are known for their courage and resolve, and for their striking appearance and distinctive dress.  Less well known, however, are Sikh beliefs and ideals, and the roots of Sikh culture and art in the traditions of North India.  This exhibition will present approximately 100 works from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century, including paintings, drawings, textiles, metalwork, and photographs that identify core Sikh beliefs and explore the plurality of Sikh cultural traditions. 

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