Arizona Sikhs Explain Significance of Turban

June 29, 2003

Source: The Arizona Republic

On June 29, 2003 The Arizona Republic reported that "if Sikhs are under attack, taking off the turban would be the last thing they would do. Turbans symbolize courage and empowerment of the Sikh man and help him remember the persecution the Sikh religion has seen in its almost 500-year history. Likewise, the name Singh, or Lion, is taken by all men, and Kaur, or Princess, by all women... 'The attacks have not been a question of the turban but of misidentification,' said Raj Bisla, chairman of the Sikh Religious Society of Arizona, which operates the Arizona Sikh Gurdwara, a place of worship in central Phoenix. 'They happen because Sikhs resemble Muslims...' He said the Phoenix area is home to 400 to 500 Sikh families, almost all immigrants from India, who worship at one of two gurdwaras within six blocks of each other near Seventh and Oak streets. The major difference between the two is one of language. The temple at Ninth and Oak streets uses English and has more Americans as members; the one at 12th and Sheridan streets uses the Punjabi language and includes more natives of India... Bisla said Sunday services are open to all, as long as they cover their heads and remove their shoes."