In yet another effort to raise the profile of Sikhs in this country and spread awareness about their culture and religion, the non-profit Sikhs of New York held Turban Day 2018- Times Square– A Vaisakhi Celebration” on April 7.
Thousands who came to enjoy the show also participated in turban tying, so that a new Guinness World Record for the “Most Turbans tied in 8 hours” was set at Times Square, this last Saturday.
Representatives from Guinness World Records were present to judge the turban tying, and awarded the recognition based on their first-hand witnessing of the event.
And Sikhs of New York also received a citation from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the organization announced in a press release.
Intense and pulsing Punjabi beats filled the air in Times Square as many including famous food lover Varli Singh and her family, joined the celebration, dancing and raising their voice in some “balle balle” showing off the newly-tied turbans. So many who came got turbans tied so that Times Square turned into waves of color as if Holi was being played, but this time with long pieces of colorful cloth artfully wrapped on the head.
As some volunteers were asking the public whether anyone wanted to get a Turban tied for free, other volunteers were holding up signs with the names and photos of important Indian-American Sikhs to further educate New Yorkers and tourists about Sikhs and their contributions worldwide.
Police officers from the New York Police Department were seen participating in the celebrations, and a number of Sikh police officers posed in a photo with Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Ravinder Bhalla, which he posted on Twitter.
The Tri-state area has achieved a higher visibility for Sikhs with the recent election of Mayor Bhalla, the first Sikh mayor of Hoboken; and the appointment of a Sikh Attorney General for the state of New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal. Even non-Sikhs like New Jersey State Senator Vin Gopal are hosting a “Sikh Day” in the State House in Trenton April 12, where the Indian- American Senator will be joined by other state lawmakers to commemorate the day. “We designated April 14 as Sikh Day to join in celebrating Vaisakhi with Sikhs throughout New Jersey and to honor the lasting contributions of the Sikh community,” said the flyer from Sen. Gopal’s office.
“Really enjoyed celebrating #TurbanDay in NYC today. Event intended to demystify Sikh turban and educate general public about the Sikh community. Honored by the very warm welcome from so many in the Sikh community” Bhalla tweeted on the evening of April 7 with a bunch of photos showing how much fun he had with his family at the event.
“At Turban Day, we tied turbans regardless of age, color, gender or race. These are core Sikh values and American values that make us Sikh Americans. Our diversity is our strength,” Chanpreet Singh, the founder of Sikhs of New York, is quoted saying in a press release.
Sikhs of New York has been hosting Turban Day since 2013 to raise awareness about the fifth largest religion whose followers began coming to the U.S. during the British Raj in India about 125 years ago. Despite their long history in this country, Sikhs remain the least understood minority among Indian-American immigrants in this country, and have borne the brunt of hate crimes and attacks on South Asians since 9/11.
Turban Day is part of the many events around the United States where Indian-Americans of the Sikh faith, are celebrating Vaisakhi, a festival that commemorates the founding of the faith and also the harvest season.
According to the Sikhs of New York website, for every Sikh, the Turban is an identifying symbol of their pride, honor, legacy and a crown that represents equality, justice and humanity, giving them the strength and courage to face all odds while helping others.
“We greatly appreciate the many volunteers who lent their time and contributed generously to support Turban Day. This educational endeavor would not be possible without our hundreds of volunteers and supporters,” Singh added.