2014 marks 100 years since Sikhs fought for the British Empire in the First World War and 160 years since the first Sikh, Maharaja Duleep Singh, came to the United Kingdom. The young Prince was the last Maharaja of Punjab and custodian of the famous Kohinoor diamond. He became a firm favourite of Queen Victoria who he would accompany on Royal visits dressed in his majestic turban and traditional Sikh dress.
Sikh history and artefacts are prominently displayed at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London who regularly host a range of exhibitions on Sikhs and Sikhism as does Ancient House in Norfolk which is near Elveden Estate, Thetford – the spiritual home of Maharaja Duleep Singh. It is also important to understand and highlight the contribution Sikhs made who rallied in enormous numbers for the King, Empire, and the defence of Europe. The battlefields of World War I and II saw an estimated 138,000 Sikh soldiers in active service.
The culture of a religion is reflected in many ways and the founders of the list passionately believe the turban represents a striking distinctiveness and a visible means of that self-expression. The time has come for the turban to be represented in a more positive light, by shining a spotlight on these bearers of the Sikh identity, which remains one of Sikhism’s greatest strengths. The Turban List aims to educate, inform and create a stronger appreciation for Sikhs in all walks of life and the unique and personal style of the modern day British Sikh.
Louis Vuitton’s first Sikh male model, Jatinder Durhailay, who featured in an ad campaign for the Financial Times earlier this year, is one of the featured individuals who has broken down barriers in the fashion world. Another to grace the list is Dr Harpal Kumar, CEO of Cancer Research UK. Recently he was part of the team behind the #nomakeupselfie social media campaign that raised over £8m in six days.
The project has been developed by two proud turbaned British Sikhs, who have a desire to highlight these role models to a mainstream audience and to provide a source of inspiration to the Sikh youth. Founders, Jatender Singh Heer and Baljit Singh Rihal have researched individuals to form the project and salute those who endorse their cultural sovereignty by proudly wearing the turban. Since launch The Turban List has received over 30,000 hits on their website coupled with a terrific response over Facebook and Twitter.
The public are able to nominate individuals online until 30th September 2014. By early 2015, The Turban List website will be supplemented with a publication and a documentary highlighting the excellence of these turbaned British Sikhs.
Nominate an influential Turbaned British Sikh today!