Dastar bandhi to make comeback in Singapore

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Singapore | Asia Samachar | 2 Aug 2015
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Boys to men – PHOTO SAHEB SINGH

Dastar bandhi (turban tying), the Sikh version of a coming-of-age ceremony for males which is slowly vanishing in Singapore, is set to make a comeback.

The Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB) plans to revive the tradition and organise a formal ceremony for the community later this year, says its secretary Manmohan Singh.

“The turban is the most conspicuous representation of the Sikh identity and we would like to encourage people, especially the young, to retain this representation,” he was qouted in a Straits Times article (26 July 2015) discussing the coming-of-age ceremonies of the various communities.

The dastar bandhi is usually done by family members when the Sikh male reaches the age of 11 to 16 years. During the ceremony, a prayer is done and an elderly family member would then demonstrate how to tie the turban, according to the article.

Manmohan believes that some possible reasons for the decline of the turban tying practice and coming of age ceremonies in general are Western influence and the break-up of multi-generational families resulting in traditions not being handed down from one generation to the next, the article added.

The CSGB manages and operates the daily running of two Singapore gurdwaras (Sikh temples): the Central Sikh Gurdwara at the junction of Towner Road/Serangoon Road and the Silat Road Gurdwara along Jalan Bukit Merah.

The board was formalised through the enactment of the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board Act of the Singapore Parliament which incorporated the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board, according to information on its website.

In the same article, Associate Professor Lee Cheuk Yin, director of the Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture at the National University of Singapore, says that coming-of-age ceremonies, or initiation rites, for the Chinese date as far back as 2,000 years ago.

On Aug 16, a group of Teochew youth will be wearing red clogs and biting the head of a steamed chicken. They are trying to revive a coming-of-age tradition Teochew people used to practise.

Organised for the first time by the Singapore Kityang Huay Kwan Youth Wing, the ceremony called chu hua yuan (literally, coming out of the garden) will start with participants washing their faces with floral water in basins to get rid of any xie qi (bad luck). Kityang is one of the eight districts in China that the Teochews come from.

 

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