A drowning teenage girl had her life saved in Kamloops (Canada, B.C) by a Sikh man who used his turban to pull her clear of a river. This incident fittingly came just hours after the passing of Pritam Singh Jauhal, a World War 2 veteran that fought for Sikh turban rights.
Many such incidents have been reported in a way which can negatively portray Sikhi as a dogmatic faith, as seen in headlines such as the one below. With the growth of coverage of Sikhs using their turbans in such a manner, we share a statement on this from Sikh education group Basics of Sikhi.
Basics of Sikhi made the following statement on the incident:
Incidents of Sikhs using the material for our dastaar (turban) to help others are now regularly being recorded/reported around the world. We hope this will help enlighten those that are unaware about what the physical Sikh identity represents. It is about more than simply covering up hair. The Sikh dastaar is about outwardly representing the Sikh religion. Compassion for others plays a pivotal part in our religious beliefs and therefore our every day actions. We hope media will stop saying Sikhs “put religion aside” during such incidents, as this is simply not true. A true Sikh will always do whatever they can to help someone in need, as these incidents show.
For more information on why Sikhs wear a turban, check this video from Basics of Sikhi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c78XrBvgBtM
The incident in Kamloops has been reported as following by CBC Canada;
A quick-thinking farmer in Kamloops, B.C., used his turban to save a teen who had fallen into the cold waters of a nearby river.
Avatar Hothi and his son, Paul, were on their farm near Heffley Creek when they noticed a teen struggling in the North Thomson River close to their farm.
“I’m very proud of him,” said Paul Hothi, referring to his 65-year-old dad.
“We were trying to look around for branches, and he just sprung to action, took off his turban right away, threw it in the water and pulled her to shore.”
Paul Hothi said the girl was about 14 or 15 years old. He doesn’t know how she fell into the river, but said the water is very cold this time of year.
“She was just in shock at the moment we pulled her out of the water. She was freezing basically,” he said. “[We] quickly covered her up with a blanket to warm her up.”
His father then drove the girl back to her grandmother’s house a few minutes from their farm.
The aforementioned incident shows the turban never stops a Sikh from performing his/her duties. This also relates to the work of Pritam Singh Jauhal, who was amazed that after fighting in WW2 for the allied nations he was told he could not wear his turban for the Royal Canadian Legion, something which he fought to change.
CBC Canada reported his passing as follows;
A prominent figure in the Sikh-Canadian community who fought and won a high profile battle to allow Sikhs wearing turbans into Royal Canadian Legions, has died.
95-year-old Lt.-Col. Pritam Singh Jauhal passed away peacefully in Surrey over the weekend.
Jauhal fought for the British Empire in World War II, but on Remembrance Day in 1993 he was denied entrance to the Newton Legion in Surrey because of his turban and legion rules forbidding the wearing of hats and headgear.
“They had tried to explain that as soldiers they had fought with their turbans on so this was not something that was unknown to soldiers who had fought in World War II,” said Satwinder Bains, director for the centre for Indo-Canadian studies at the University of the Fraser Valley. “But the legion was adamant that they take them off at the door.”
“[Jauhal] didn’t understand that in the Commonwealth countries, how Canada could even think that people of the Sikh faith, who had fought in wars alongside Canadians and Europeans and people all over the world, could be not allowed into a legion,” said Bains.
Jauhal’s belief in religious freedom also led him to speak out against the Conservative government’s ban on Muslim women covering their faces during citizenship ceremonies.
Jauhal’s memoir, A Soldier Remembers, was published in 2013.
Bains says Jauhal will be remembered as a kind man who stood up for what he believed in.
“He had that in him, that gentle nature and yet that steel will and determination. This was who he was,” said Bains.
For further information, or to contact Basics of Sikhi, email Media@SikhPA.com.