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Did NZ Sikh Harman Singh really break religious protocol or place humanity above Sikhi by removing his turban?

May 17, 2015 | By

A New Zealand based Sikh student Harman Singh used his turban to stop the bleeding of an injured child. The child was hit by a vehicle on his way to school. Harman Singh, 22, was at home when he heard car wheels screeching, then a commotion, and so ran outside to investigate where he found that the injured boy was bleeding from his head. He did not think twice and removed his turban to cradle the bleeding head of the 5-year-old child.

Harman Singh (right) helping the injurred child

Harman Singh (right) helping the injurred child

A photo of Harman Singh placing his turban under the head of the injured child is widely published by media worldwide.

Did Harman Singh break religious protocol?

If we have a look at media coverage, most of the media reports say that Harman Singh broke “strict religious protocol” (Daily Mail, NZ Herald besides various other newspapers) by removing his turban.
Many others claim that Harman Singh placed “Humanity above religious sentiment” (OneIndia) by removing his turban to help a stranger.

But here a question arises: did Harman Singh break any religious protocol as is claimed by the media?
As we all know, Sikhs do not remove their turban in public and it’s considered disgraceful for a pose bareheaded in public. It is necessary for a Sikh to wear his turban at all times, which is considered to be an integral part of Sikh identity.

We also know that Sikhs face turban restrictions or even bans in many countries (for example France) and this issue is a cause of concern for Sikhs every where.

But when Harman Singh removed his turban to save the life of an injured child every Sikh praised him. No one criticized him for removing his turban in public.

A question arises – why? And the answer is that every Sikh knows Harman Singh has acted like a “true Sikh” and did what was required to be done at that time. No Sikh criticized him because he/she would have done the same thing and the basis of that action would be the Sikh concept of “Sewa”, where one transcends self to help the needy.

Ignorance of Media:

Statements that Harman Singh “broke religious protocol” or “placed humanity above religious sentiments” by removing his turban in public to help an injured child are as a result of media ignorance about Sikhi.

I do admit here that most of the newspapers have praised Harman Singh in their coverage, but there is a difference. The media praises him because they believe that he broke strict religious protocol and placed humanity above religion (or Sikhi, to be specific) to help a needy child, whereas the fact is that Harman Singh did nothing more than follow an inherent command of Sikh values to extend selfless service to a person in need of such humanitarian help.

Here he did not break any religious protocol nor did he place humanity above his religion; rather he just followed the path shown by Sikhi.

Any Sikh would like Harman Singh in such a situation.

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