HOLLYWOOD HARV: To shave or not to shave – a schism in Sikhism

Published: October 22, 2012

Akshay Kumar played Happy Singh in Singh is Kinng. Note the deluxely groomed beard. Submitted photo


This weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with a young man who has proudly rocked a turban his whole life.  He was a really nice guy and we had a few deep discussions about faith and his beard and turban.  I admit I am not a religious guy but I grew up in a Sikh family and I have been surrounded by many men with turbans and even some women.  What I have read and what I was taught is that the hair in Sikhism is considered a god given part of your body.  It should be treated no different than an arm or a leg.  It should not be cut, it should be embraced, respected, cared for, and protected from the elements with a turban.

This gentleman that I hung out with wore a full turban with pride and clearly had a beard that had never been shaved or altered.  He must have been in his late twenties.  I told him that I respected the fact that he believed in something and he stuck by his convictions.  I know that growing up in Canada with a turban, or most countries for that matter, can be difficult for a child.  I can imagine there were times he had to endure ignorant remarks or hazing and even remarks from his peers about how he should shave or cut his hair.

I grew up learning and believing that if you wear a turban it means that you follow the faith strictly and do things like keep all of your body hair, and refrain from drinking and smoking.  Of course, there are people that occasionally wear a turban for functions or special occasions but that is different.  I am talking about people who wear a turban every day of their normal lives.

But one trend I have seen more and more lately is guys with turbans and shaved beards.  Or even goatees, trimmed beards, and that chin strap design that has become a little too common.

What I always wonder is why bother with the turban then?  Personally, I think they are making a mockery or insulting the turban by having a next-to-nothing beard under it.  You kept your hair intact, you endured the jeers and remarks and wore that turban your whole life but then why have a perfectly groomed beard?  How does that make sense?

Especially when I visit the UK, it’s very common to see young men with turbans and almost no facial hair with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other.  Some of them have turned their turbans into just a bandana with the hair tied up in the back.  But who are you keeping the hair for then?  At that point it is no longer a religious thing because clearly you are not following that faith.  Is it just for appearance sake in front of elders?  Does that impress anyone?  I don’t think it does.  I think it makes a complete mockery of everything the turban stands for.  You are better off being clean cut and admitting you are not religious.

I understand that some children were given the turban before they were at an age to understand what it meant.  And I believe that is wrong as well. But at some point you have to make a decision and decide which way you are going to go.  It is no different than me walking around with a Yarmulke on for no reason at all.

I am no expert on any religion and usually I refrain from discussing it at all but I decided to share my opinion.  I discussed this with the man I met on the weekend as well and he also shared my views.  He agreed that if you can’t respect what the turban stands for, don’t wear it.  These are just my views and I would love to hear your feedback.

By the way if you are interested in seeing one of my not-safe-for-work comedy shows, I will be putting on an absolutely free show at Mavericks Sports Lounge this Thursday.  I have some other great comedians who will be joining me on stage and it will be a great evening.  Mavericks is located on Kingsway near E. 12th Avenue  and the show starts at 9 p.m.  I hope to see you there.

Hollywood Harv Puni is a comedian from Richmond.  You can follow him on twitter @hollywood_harv or go to his website www.hollywoodharv.ca and purchase his DVD.  He can be reached at hollywoodharvcomedy@gmail.com

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ed says:

certainly food for thought

Ray says:

Well Said Harv!

jagga jatt says:

harv i agree, but are going to help are ppl to do something about it? thx



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