Monday, 23 January 2017

Dumala | The Turban

Avtar Singh Mauni
Image courtesy of: The News Lens
(Photo by Ajay Verma)

Whenever he ventures out of his home, Avtar Singh Mauni—a Sikh warrior (and member of a prestigious order known as Nihang, a term which literally means 'crocodile'; a particular sect within Sikhism and dedicated to the defense of their faith, Nihang Sikhs refer to themselves as “Akaali,” which means undying or immortal army) in his early sixties living in Patiala, Northern India—makes for an astonishing sight, inevitably drawing a crowd of spectators all around him, phone cameras held aloft and clicking away. Those crowds are drawn to Mr. Mauni's traditional, albeit enormous and colourful, turban, one of the largest in the Punjab region—an area bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, Himachal Pradesh to the east, and Rajasthan to the south—estimated to weigh 100 pounds (with an additional 100 pounds of weapons and decorative ornaments, including a sword and heavy bangles, which add another 87 pounds to the full regalia) and measuring, according to some sources, from 2,115 to 2,460 feet of various lengths of fabrics; a devout Sikh, it takes Mr. Mauni as much as six hours to wrap his famous turban before visiting his local temple each day—not an easy task but one which he takes in stride.

Video courtesy of: Vogue
(Directed by Mark Hartman | Edited by Gaia Squarci)

Above left image, courtesy of: Punjab Kesari | Above right image, courtesy of: Pinterest
(Photos by Ajay Verma)

Image courtesy of: Face Paparazzi

Due to its enormous size, Mr. Mauni is unable to travel using traditional methods of transportations (cars) relying, instead, on his motorcycle as his mode of commute. Having worn turbans from the age of ten, for the past eighteen years Mr. Mauni has continued to gradually add layers of cloth to his turban: “I just keep putting on cloth from top to bottom, one layer at a time, just like you would lay the storeys of a building.” While most Sikh turbans measure five to seven meters in length, amazingly, Mr. Mauni has no problem carrying the weight of his oversized  turban on his head—he feels neither over-heated nor burdened; it is, he has admitted, as though a lotus flower were on his head. On those very rare occasions when Mr. Mauni is without his turban, he has acknowledged feeling “...incomplete, that some part of me is missing. I get afraid that I may fall and I keep wondering, 'Have I lost something? Where is my turban?'”
(Quotes & sources: Thornhill, T., The Turbanator, The Daily Mail, August 28, 2014; How to Tie a 200-Pound Turban—Sikh Style!, Vogue, undated; Nihang Sikhs: The modern-day warriors-pacifists, SikhNet, March 18, 2015)

Image courtesy of: Amazing India Blog

Until the time I have no more strength in my limbs,
I will carry this turban on my head with the blessings of the Guru.”

Sunday, 1 January 2017


Image courtesy of: AEHK