View the full list This year, the commemorations of the centenary of World War I will recognise the contribution of the approximately 130,000 Sikh soldiers who fought for the British Army in the Great War.
These martial links, alongside the historical connections between the Sikhs and the British monarchy (dating back to the close bond between Maharajah Duleep Singh and Queen Victoria), have meant that among minority groups in the UK, the British have often regarded Sikhs as a “favoured community”.
He continues that turban-wearing men often feel invisible to women, not literally, but “when it comes to actually going out with someone.” I was inundated with the voices of young women in my school casually referring to facial hair as gross or unattractive (with no intention to hurt my feelings I’m sure) and their preference for guys who were “clean-shaven.” CLEAN-shaven. These are the messages we get from our peers and from the media every day.
A young Singh in the UK has been in the spotlight the last few days after his appearance on a dating television show called “Take Me Out.” I just heard about it a show on BBC Radio 1 hosted by Nihal, which you can listen to in its entirety here.
Nihal speaks with Param, the dating show contestant, and takes comments from listeners, who discuss Param’s appearance on the show and more generally whether turban-wearing Sikh men are discriminated against when it comes to dating and marriage.
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This favouritism has served British Sikhs well over the years, for instance allowing for the successful negotiation of opt-out clauses relating to wearing the turban instead of motorcycle helmets, as many policy makers in the 1970s and 80s retained a collective memory of turbaned Sikh soldiers fighting for the British army.
Indeed, following the events of Operation Blue Star in 1984, in which the Golden Temple and surrounding historical Sikh Gurdwaras were stormed and severely damaged, many in the Sikh diaspora began to disassociate themselves from the Indian state, being unable to understand why their homeland’s government had felt that there had been no other option but to storm their holiest shrine.
As you’ll see in the clip below, as soon as Param comes out, 20 of the 30 women turn their lights off, indicating no interest in him.
One woman who left her light on said she is interested in him because she could use Param’s turban to store her phone.
The combination of a dirty face plus a patka was enough to cause a whole lot of anxiety and insecurity for this angsty teenage Singh.
The discussion on the BBC program resonated with many thoughts and questions that often swirl around in my head when it comes to the topic of dating for me, and perhaps other turban-wearing Sikh males: Feeling like an outcast for most of one’s life most certainly takes a toll, even if the ways it manifests are more subtle in our adulthood.
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