Bana - Brother Prabhu Singhs Story

Last year when I realized that I was going to India I began thinking about what I could get there that I can't get here. I thought that I might like to switch my turban style and I could do so in India, since I can buy turban material there and not here.

It took me a while to make a style that I liked, I tried different methods of tying my turban and different lengths, but eventually I found the style. I use 9 meters cut in half. So I get two turbans from 9 meters of rubia. I didn't really like the Patiala-shahi turban any more, sometimes the point would start to hurt. I also didn't want to wear a damalla (daily anyway) because it is for battle.Also I realized that I had a chance to get a lot of bana made for a fair price. I had been contemplating wearing bana everyday for a long time. I thought, when I had enough bana that I could wear it everyday, I would. Now was my chance. I made such a huge order, I arranged it ahead of time before getting to India.

When I got back from India, things were different. I went back to work wearing a different turban and dressing completely different. My normal dress for work before going to India was slacks and a button-up shirt. I had (still have, but don't wear) a lot of designer clothes. I usually looked pretty sharp, very 'professional' (I never rolled my beard though), and generally well groomed. Now I look sharper, I'm still well-groomed, and I don't look professional but more princely.

A lot of people have been staring at me at work. I work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is very prestigious amongst scientists. The small town of Los Alamos has the highest number of PHD's per capita in the world. People from all over the US and the world are working here. I can tell immediately who is new and who's been here for a while. The people who are local (Los Alamos, EspaƱola, Santa Fe) have seen Sikhs in full bana for years. The rest stare like they've never seen anything like me (probably haven't).

The Labs is the largest employer in Northern New Mexico and so it has a huge work force. Each division is like a speparate company. My brother and my Dad work at the labs but I never see them at work or know anything of the work they do.

On a daily basis I only see a (relatively) small number of people who are my co-workers. They are now quite used to seeing me in a kurta/churidar or chola, with a hazoori and 9-meter turban. Only the people who know me personally have commented and they all say the same thing; I look like a king or a prince. One guy said he wanted to be a Sikh, just so he could dress like me.

Wearing bana everyday, makes you very aware of your responsibility to the Guru. You cannot behave in a manner that would bring negative attention to Sikhs. You have to be confident in your beliefs or you will feel crushed by the weight of the stares and the assumed judgements that come with many of the looks.

You have to give up all your cares about what other people think and decide that you want to be who you are.

For a lot of people wearing bana everyday is not who they are. For me, I've never been happier to wear clothes. The first few days were interesting and I had moments where I didn't feel very confident. In those moments I would catch myself and realize all the great reasons I should be perfectly confident.

Being yourself is very liberating.

Nobody can please everybody, and it is useless to try. We all have to wear clothes, why not wear what suites us? We have a uniform that immediately identifies who we are and what we stand for. On my way to work the other day I saw my reflection in a window and I saw a GurSikh in full uniform looking back.

In writing this post I thought I might express some of what I've experienced with this change of appearance in my life. Also I thought I might issue a challenge to others who are considering making a change.

If you are considering wearing a turban (man or woman) or bana everyday, and the only thing holding you back is your mind, I would like to challenge you to join me in this change. I know many people have dress codes at work, but many people are worried what their family or community might say when they change.

If this is the only set back, it is unfortunate.

I had detractors and a lot of people who didn't understand as well, but I still went for it. My challenge is not any different than anybody else's. It's not easier for me than for somebody else. We each have to face challenges representing this sacred path. Without the challenges one might not face themselves and develop conviction in their beliefs.This path is not cheap, it is not a part-time religion. The value of this great dharma has to be earned, daily.

This was my last day at the Hari Mandir Sahib in December.

Extract From:

See Also: Wearing Dastaar/Bana

1 comment:

FaujKaur said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ke Fateh

This post is really good. I think everything that this Singh has stated is correct, especially when he says: "...If you are considering wearing a turban (man or woman) or bana everyday, the only thing holding you back is your mind..."

Thanks for sharing this article.