Kiwis learn about Sikh religion at 'Turban Day'

Kiwis learn about Sikh religion at 'Turban Day'

Hundreds of people in Auckland took the opportunity today to find out what it's like to wear a turban. The event was arranged to help people understand more about the Sikh religion.

New Zealand is home to 20,000 thousand Sikhs.

The turban is one of five articles of their faith, and is considered to be the crown of spirituality. But anyone, regardless of faith or sex can wear one.

Ryan Ashton has always wanted to try a turban -- a turban to match his beloved rugby team's kit.

"I always joked I'd do it in Otago yellow -- hence wearing the kit today and having a bit of fun."

It has also made him closer to his Sikh mate, Vishav Preet Singh.

"There's over 200 ethnicities in New Zealand, and we have our own culture but all those other ethnicities are part of our culture now, so why not embrace it and have fun?" says Mr Ashton.

There's a lot of ignorance about turbans. Jaspreet Singh found that out when he was in a cafe and another customer saw him putting his headphones into a bag. The police turned up, having been told he had a bomb.

"Hopefully we can move forward from there and reduce incidents like that from happening," he says.

From the founding of the religion, the Sikh turban has always been the symbol of a person who will help others.

"We're not here to harm anybody or hurt anyone; we're here to help," says Amar Prakash Singh. "We're just different because we wear turbans."

Putting a turban on takes as little as two minutes a day. Sikh men have been doing it since they were 15 years old so they're quick.

"I think it really is breaking down the ignorance," says Auckland student Sam Parsons. "I think it is breaking down the barrier between Sikhs and their turban and what the perception of someone who wears a turban is."

Sikhs aren't precious about who else wears one -- men or women, young or old, hairy or bald. There are no set rules about style or length of turban. It's just what matches your clothes and works for you.

Turban Day began in the Netherlands, and is celebrated in New York, London and Norway.

Aucklanders, too, have embraced Turban Day in their hundreds.