Survey: Kaurs who Wear Dastars

Last but not least, I present you the survey results of 41 Kaurs who wear dastars and an insight into their experiences. All the graphs represent percentage of respondents, except for age, which is number of respondents. To make the graphs larger, click on them. As the survey was anonymous, please note that the photos below are not necessarily the photos of those who completed the survey.

Enjoy!

1. Why do you wear a dastar?

why

Other:

  • I like they way it looks
  •  it helps keep my hair neat and clean, and i dont have to worry about what to do with my untamed hair! lol
  • I feel a lot more centered and balanced with my dastar. I literally feel a little “scatter-brained” when I don’t tie it.
  • I love guru sahib so much and just want to do everything according to the rehit that binds us to them. I tie a dastaar because I CAN, and that adds to the little I am capable of doing to show that love.
  • It’s my crown
  •  It is a technology to keep my hair clean, crown adjusted, and it presents a strong, uplifting presence.
  •  It’s humbling and glorifying  to have the Guru Jee’s nishanee
  • It holds me more accountable to my values, I wear my heart on my sleeve and like for people to know who and am and what I stand for.
  •  My love for the Guru
  • I wear a dastar because my father, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, wants all his children to wear it. Also, I want to be like my father as much as possible and follow his footsteps of being a scholar, warrior, musician, spiritual person, a genuine person, and wearing a dastar helps a tiny bit, though I may be far from where is was and is.
  •  It reminds me of my heritage.
  •  I feel like i belong to my guru
  •  I want to wear it and can’t imagine myself without it, it’s like my kakkar

2. At what age did you start wearing a dastar?

age (number)

3. What triggered you to wear a dastar?

trigger

Other:

  •  I had also always envisioned myself wearing a daster from a young age, and I always aspired to have the confidence and grace to be able to wear it.
  • The irritating fact that after Oak Creek, every.single.description of a Sikh was “a man with a turban and beard.” Even women said this. I didnt see myself in this description anywhere. I became hypersensitive to these descriptions and realized that it was everywhere that the dastaar is the identity of the Khalsa. I felt the the dastaar had become gendered to be masculine and that there was this leniency with this part of the uniform granted to women that was actually robbing them of a big part of their identity. It was irritating. If men cover their heads, so do women. If men wear dastaars, so do women. I cant imagine Guru Gobind Singh demanding any less of his daughters than his sons. sorry for the long answer, its fresh
  • I started to feel ashamed that people couldn’t immediately recognize me as a Sikh when it’s such a large part of who I am.
  • birth of my daughter
  • Assa Di Vaar
  • AKJ smagams
  • Good sangat, good books, movies like sundri ect,
  • Sangat
  • Sadh Sangat

4. How did you feel about wearing a dastar when you FIRST started wearing a it?

first

Other:

  • My dastaar didn’t look so hot in those early days but then again, I’m so glad I didn’t let that stop me cuz it looks amazing now.
  • I was self conscious and nervous in front of sikh sangat b/c of criticismbut internally I knew this is what I wanted to do and blessed Guru Sahib gave me hukam to go through with it.
  •  I felt more confident in who I was, although that was probably more of a pre-cursor to wearing the dastar. I felt I had really grown into what I believed.
  •  I prayed that i would live up to my own expectations.

5. What was your parents’ reaction when you first started wearing a dastar?

parents

Other:

  • One parent supported it and my other parent didn’t initially support my decision but now does
  • Both my mom and in-laws were upset at first and it took them quite some time to accept it
  • Hostile—my father I have always been able to talk to and he supported me but shared his concerns. My mother slandered me at every turn and we are still working on our relationship.
  • Dad was happy about it, mom was neutral, but was worried that I wont be able to keep up the commitment but now she is happy!

6. What was your SIKH friends’ reaction when you started wearing a dastar?

sikh rxn

Other:

  • Just couldn’t understand why

7. What was your NON SIKH friends’ reactions when you started wearing a dastar?

non sikh

Other:

  • I was told I looked like an Egyptian princess- I was the only one in my high school with a distar
  • don’t remember anyone really saying anything about it
  •  I got compliments on it
  • Fearful

8. How have Kaurs treated you differently since you started wearing a dastar?

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 8.08.53 PM

Other:

  • I have a less diverse friend circle
  • Mixed reaction depending on the Kaur’s background
  • I didn’t have any Kaur sisters before wearing a dastar
  • Mixed reactions from both those who wear and don’t wear dastars

9. How have Singhs treated you differently since you started wearing a dastar?

singhs

Other:

  • Men are more conscious that I’m wearing it proudly while they may not be so some avoid me.  generally they don’t like or want their wives wearing a dastaar.

10. How have non-Sikhs treated you differently since you started wearing the dastar?

Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 9.33.33 AM

  • I get asked more about Sikhi and why I wear a distar- I am a visible minority
  • I think I’m less likely to be invited to their events
  • Everyone reacts differently. I started wearing bana during grad school and medical training so got exposed to a lot of people in a short amount of time. It was a fascinating experience which really helped me know myself and what I was standing for in Guru’s roop
  • They stare and sometimes don’t know what to do with me, or react.
  • Many people have commented throughout the years how beautiful the my “head dress” looks. I’m sure many have the opposite opinion, but haven’t voiced it!
  • Some don’t know how to approcha me because of too many dos and donts that they have learned from other cultures towards a “religious” girl. lol
  • Much more respect from non-Sikhs

11. How did you feel about wearing a dastar after wearing it for a while?

while

Other:

  • My love for my distar grew and continues to grow
  • There have been times where I wondered and questioned a bit but now I’m solid and set.  I can’t see myself any other way.
  • feel a sense of responsibility
  • more connected to my Guru and destiny in this life. It is comforting and grounding to have this responsibility and discipline. Plus, it makes me feel safe and secure and self-contained.
  • Seriously, I know that’s so cheesy, but I feel that flood of emotions from amrit sanchaar and sangat and keertan and everything else whenever I tie my dastaar. I am very little to nothing without it.

12. How has wearing the dastar affected your Sikhi?

afected sikhi

Other:

  • It gives me a sense of accountability to the Guru
  • Sikhs label me more as a Singhni with a dastar. Some groups (AKJ, greet me now and didn’t before) and non keshdharis think I’m closeminded or will judge them.  Definitely not the case!
  • It brings me closer to the Guru’s message

13. Which females in your family wear dastars?

family

Other:

  • No Kaur in my family wears a dastar, I come from a non-Sikh background
  • My husbands sister and mother wear patka. My family is German descent and historically Catholic
  • All female family members on my side including nieces wear dastars, but none on my husband’s side
  • Sister in laws

14. If you have daughters, or hope to in the future, do you want them to wear dastars?

daughters

Other:

  • I would like for them to make the decision but also help inspire them
  • I expect them to cover their heads
  • I do not have daughters, If I had the privilege of raising a daughter (which I do not), I would ask her to wear a dastaar on occasion if she wanted to (as a young child) and would totally leave the choice up to her as she gets older. No pressure for sure and no expectation.
  • my daughter is young and she wears i on special occasions.  it will be her choice but will encourage her in this direction
  • If she wears it, she needs to wear it proudly.
  • At the end of the day, it should be their choice.. I would not want to force them.
  • I will give them the experience and choice. It has to come from within to be a daughter of Guru Gobind Singh.

15. What do you think of other Kaurs who do not wear dastars?

othes

Other:

  • One love. Who am I to judge?
  • I do not have an opinion, I don’t think about it this way
  • I think many women do not understand that they are Queens! They don’t believe they deserve it.
  •  I hope one day they will wear a distaar
  •  Religion is personal.  I don’t have the right to judge others spirituality.

16. Do you think all Kaurs should wear dastars?

all kaurs

Other:

  • Since we’re equal to Sikh men, we too should have our own identity.  We don’t give Sikh boys the choice when they’re growing up, so why give girls the choice?
  • No, it is completely a personal choice and manifestation of one’s religious practice.
  • Sikhi should never be forced, it is a love between a Sikh and Guru ji, without love, Guru’s saroop won’t withstand inside you or on you.
  •  Everyone develops according to their own consciousness. In the Western Dharma that began in America, the vows for Amrit include wearing a dastar. I think that commitment is part of Guru Hobind Singh’s intention for us to stand out, especially since so few Sikhs wear Guru Ji’s bana in their everyday life.
  • I think any person, male or female, the desires to wear dastaar should come from within and not be mandated by others. It is a gift to wear a Dastaar and a gift that one, regardless of gender, should treasure and desire before taking on the responsibility of such a gift
  • It really gave me confidence and made me feel more beautiful.  I hope other women would be able to experience this empowerment. blessed with that
  • Ideally, yes, at least all amrithari Kaur’s should
  • yes if they can keep other rehat and respectfully wear a dastaar
  • Totally feel it should be a personal choice but would love to see more Kaurs wearing dastaars!!
  • I think it’s a choice and shouldn’t be forced upon any Kaur- however I would love to know if all kaurs wore a distar during the times before or after 1699

Last thoughts.

In this section, participants were given the opportunity to write any of their thoughts.

  • Thanks! A very well thought out and thought provoking survey.
  • Thank you for taking time to do this…you are an inspiration.  Love you!
  • If you love someone or have a role model, you will want to be like that person.  My inspiration is my Guru so I think of Guru Gobind Singh ji and reflect why did He give this pugji as a gift?  It’s such a privilige and challenging, but it really helps with accountability and I want to be a good person no matter where I go, no fakeness, I am who I am…thank you Guru ji!  Men don’t feel the same b/c they are ‘required’ but they still need to accept Sikhi.  ‘Proud by birth, Sikh by Choice’.
  • I think it’s really important that Kaur’s recognize their right to adorn a dastaar. It’s not a Singh “thing” nor is it defeminizing if that is what Sikh women fear. It’s a beautiful non-violent revolutionary message you send to society: I adorn my dastaar in defiance to the mainstream misogynistic culture, which socializes us and forces us to conform to these crazy gender roles.
  • It’s important that in this day and age, the dastaar should not be forced upon a Kaur. Wearing a dastaar is a big responsibility. Wearing the dastaar represents the Khalsa. It is important that one does not tarnish the image of Khalsa at any time. The dastaar is not a fashion statement either. Therefore, before adopting the roop of Khalsa, one has to stop facial kes beadbi, make-up and the wearing of jewelry. There are certain Kaur’s out there that have disrespected the sanctity of the dastaar caking their faces with make-up, wearing inappropriate clothing etc. This is hurting the image of Khalsa. So if a Kaur wants to wear a dastaar then it’s important to implement rehat at all times.
  • I feel more confident when I wear my dastaar and I feel really clear about who I am and what’s important to me.  I feel that others can clearly tell what I’m all about too and there’s no ambiguity.  In my case, others do not feel judged by my wearing a dastaar because my wearing a dastaar is only about me, and not about anyone else. I feel so privileged to have made the decision to wear a dastaar and to be able to stick by it, 13 years later. It really does help me to keep my head on a bit straighter than if I did not wear a dastaar and to simplify my outer appearance and all the choices and time that comes with that – by this I mean, I do not take any time or put any effort into making my hair look pretty or worrying about graying or dying my hair – which I think is a good thing because it keeps me a bit more humble about my outer appearance.  And  of course, I feel beautiful in it!!!
  • The main issue for me is that Sikhs especially those who hope to or have taken Amrit should cover their heads.
  • Wearing a dastaar can create this image that one is more spiritually inclined – of course no physical appearance dictates a person’s connection with one’s intuition and by extension, Guru. I do feel some people (Sikhs and non-Sikhs) feel that I’m more strict because I wear a dastaar, an image which often breaks down once we get to know one another. Like any sub-group, a dastaar wearing sub-group of Sikh women exists — women who wear them can sometimes gather and group themselves and women who do not can do the same. I naturally, and sometimes make it a point, interact with people of all visual identity. To look into another’s eyes and see the Divine is what I feel is much more important than what a person looks like. It is a beautiful journey to wear a dastaar. I have adopted it as a natural outward reflection of my inner self. I am an experiential Sikh I would say; I don’t like the word ‘should’ as it makes my spirit feel boxed in, and prevent it from flying. The decision to wear a dastaar therefore has come naturally. If I have daughters and sons, I would want them to both cover their heads growing up with a patka/rumaal/dastaar. To give them the values of a Sikh is much more vital than what they are wearing though. Thank you for taking on this topic. Guru ang sung!
  • For me personally, I see Dastar as a privilege given to me by my Guru and to uphold IT and other physical or non-physical values is my promise to the Guru.
  • Thank you for your seva:)
  • Sikhi is beautiful and Maharaj loves us all as his children 🙂 so on technicalities my dad told me to wear a dastar and my mother Mata Sahib Kaur ji also wears one 🙂
  • There should be more support in help tying dastar for women

Screen shot 2013-06-09 at 8.54.08 PM

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9 thoughts on “Survey: Kaurs who Wear Dastars

  1. Pingback: The experiences of Sikh women who wear turbans | American Turban

    • Hi Bhenji, after reading your comment, I thought it would be a good idea to create a Facebook page. Thank you for the suggestion!

  2. Great to see some research on Sikhi. Being present in the field myself, I have always been inclined to attempt psychological research on Sikhs.
    I have a question. Would you call this a scientific research or is this a informal survey you took for yourself? What I mean to ask is, how do you know if the participants have answered the questions honestly and have not been biased? Also, where did you conduct the survey? Are these your family members or you randomly selected people to complete the survey?
    Thanks. Would love to see more of these. Keep it up!

    • Thank you for your note. It was not scientific but an informal survey. The survey questions were open to anyone with the link which was distributed over email list serves and social media. They were anonymous. The study was not controlled for variables. Eventually, I would like to re-do the study in a more formal manner that can produce robust data. If you have more questions, you can reach me at Lakhpreet[at]kaurlife.org

      Please note that this blog is no longer being updated and has been replaced by KaurLife.org. Check it out!

  3. Thanks for such a wonderful article…i also want to wear dastar as soon..untill i learn can i wear a small patka on my head??

    • Gur Fateh! Thank you for your comment. Please note that this blog is no longer being updated and has been replaced by KaurLife.org. Check it out!

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