This is my first year working as an intern in a hospital in Maryland. I have had the idea to celebrate International Turban Day at the hospital for a while and what gave me the courage to do it was that we have a few Sikh doctors in the hospital who wear turbans to work every day, so people have seen them. The Sikh doctors here are successful, lively, energetic, charming. Their patients love them and they stand out from very very far away.
I was already familiar with the concept of International Turban Day so I asked all the Sikhs in our hospital if they were interested in helping people tie turbans on that day. Everyone immediately fell in love with the idea. Since, it was to spread awareness and, of course, not force anyone, but give them an opportunity to have an experience. I only approached Sikhs at first. Ever since 9/11, I feel that people have this fear regarding turbans, which I wanted to minimize by showing that we are all the same inside.
One week before: Once everyone became excited, I asked a couple of my co-workers that were good friends to join us. At the same time, the other Sikh employees also asked their co-workers and the idea spread very quickly, within only two days we had an enthusiastic volunteer crew. Then, I prepared a very simple tool to spread the word to everyone in our department on 5th floor. I printed several copies of a very cute turbaned baby and lined up the venue. As word spread, we gathered few more people along the way.
One of my doctors came up with the idea of bringing a cake and serving snacks to everyone. Another coworker pitched in to bring the turbans and others offered to tie turbans. When we started the idea we were a group of four or five people and when the day arrived, we had at least 30 people who wore the turban that day!
The day before: The best experience I had was though I don't wear turban on a normal basis, I prepared myself a day ahead to become comfortable with it. Also, when i went to get the cake, there was a "turban-shaped" cake and I felt as if Guru Ji had put it there just for me.
On Turban Day: I felt so proud and received so many positive comments this day. Two of my co-workers were tying turbans on other people around 9:30 am. I was on rounds with my team seeing our patients and it was so powerful to see so many coworkers walking around wearing turbans. They all felt so cheerful and confident, and they were really enjoying the whole experience. Seeing them, many others asked to join in and went ahead and got turbans tied as well. Not only did they all participate in the event but they had a lot of fun, which is an even bigger achievement. Most of them kept their turbans on for the entire day. Some of them appreciated that wearing a turban is a big commitment and requires time and patience every morning. They had all came away with a better understanding for the Sikhs who wear turbans every day.
Learning points: They understood the challenges of wearing turban, but they appreciated the art of it. They realized that turbaned people are just regular humans who choose to follow a certain path. Their hearts and souls are the same as every other person. Some co-workers kept their turbans as a souvenir. Another mentioned that in his country only high priests wear turbans and he felt very privileged.
Overall, I think the reason they enjoyed it so much is because, in the past, every culture had long hair and some component of covering their head with turbans or chunni or head cloths, and it awakened an inner memory within them of how right it felt. It was a very very impactful day and people from every religion. faith, ethnicity and background participated.
I don't think my words here can portray the excitement of the people that day, but the pictures speak for themselves.