A dastaar is a type of turban, or wrapped head covering. Dastaars are worn by Sikhs. Sikhs are members of a religion (Sikhism) that developed in South Asia in the 1600s. Today, Sikhism is practiced by more than 25 million people all over the world.
All Sikh men are required to wear dastaars. Some Sikh women choose to wear a dastaar, but it isn’t required.
Sikhs are not allowed to cut their hair. Dastaars are worn as a sign of respect, and represent a commitment to equality and justice. Sikh children will often wear a smaller square piece of cloth, called a patka, to cover the topknot on their heads.
Hats or helmets are not permitted to cover dastaars. This can create conflict when the law or custom requires a Sikh man to wear another type of headwear, such as a bicycle helmet or the cap of a military uniform. Read the “Fast Facts” for examples of how five nations have allowed (or not allowed) Sikhs to wear dastaars in different situations.
- United Kingdom: In 2012, a Sikh soldier became the first person to wear a dastaar while on guard duty at Buckingham Palace. His regiment, the Scots Guards, are famous for their uniform’s tall, bearskin cap.
- Canada: The Quebec Soccer Federation does not allow any players to wear dastaars on the field. The larger Canadian Soccer Association, however, does not prohibit the headwear.
- France: France officially bans people from wearing turbans in passport photos or state-issued ID cards. The United Nations, however, supports the right of Sikhs to wear dastaars.
- Australia: A Sikh cyclist successfully appealed his traffic ticket in Brisbane, Australia, for not wearing a helmet over his dastaar. Police may have to revise the rules requiring helmets or make an exception for Sikhs.
- United States: The U.S. military "will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) of service members", which include uncut hair and dastaars. Some Sikh groups worry about the exception to this rule, which allows individual commanders to decide if an article of religious clothing interferes with military readiness or unit cohesion.
questionable or leading to argument.
type of turban, or wrapped head covering, worn by all practicing Sikh men and some Sikh women.
to train or control.
having to do with money.
to disallow or prohibit.
basic or primary.
cultural or family background.
landmass in south-central Asia carried by the Indian tectonic plate, including the peninsula of India.
before or ahead of.
people and culture that believe in one God, equality, freedom of religion, and community service
something used to represent something else.
man's head covering consisting of a long piece of cloth wrapped around a cap or around the head.