Turban-tying services boom as young Sikhs embrace heritage

Professionals say it is now rare for family members to be able to tie groom’s turban before wedding

At the height of wedding season, Jagdeep Singh Grewal professionally ties the turbans on four or five grooms a day. He is up before sunrise and often returns home long after dark. While the weddings can blur into each other, one incident has stayed with him.

On a cold October morning in 2018, Grewal arrived at the groom’s house at 5am. The groom’s mother pointed to a picture of a man wearing a turban and asked him to mimic the style. As he got to work, stretching out the fabric, then stitching and tying the turban, Grewal was taken aback by how emotional the groom’s mother and uncle became. The family were moved by the groom’s resemblance to the man in the photo, who Grewal later learned was the groom’s father – a former soldier in the Indian army who had died. “I could relate to it because my dad isn’t around and it was a tough moment,” Grewal says.

The 32-year-old runs Pagh Vala, a turban-tying service in London, with his friend and business partner Barinder Singh Bath. Theirs is part of a growing industry of bespoke turban-tying services in the UK, driven in part by younger members of the Sikh community displaying increasing pride in their roots and the rise of Bollywood stars such as Diljit Dosanjh bringing turbans into the spotlight...

...Singh agrees there was a greater pressure on migrants to conform in the 1960s, but “those born and bred in Britain now are comfortable to say they are British and wearing a turban doesn’t make them any less so. They are less prepared to compromise on their identity.”

Business owners welcome the enthusiasm for professional turban tying, but add that the religious connotations should be respected. Gucci was recently heavily criticised for selling a headpiece resembling a turban.

Kully, 30, who didn’t want to give his last name, hired Turban Pro for his wedding last year, saying he wanted it to look right and respect his culture. It was the first time he had worn one. “It really hurts your head and gives you a headache,” Kully says laughing, but adds that he really enjoyed wearing it. “Everyone complimented it, even the priest,” he says. It was the reaction from his dad, who has worn the turban his whole life, which he savoured the most. “He just looked at me and said: ‘Wow.’”

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