“Why do some people wear a turban on their head?”
At age 4, my curious little boy had many questions. One day, as we were driving back home from the playground, he asked me about ‘turbans’. Next thing I knew, we were chatting for half an hour - the entire way back home. When I look back now, I’m glad I followed his natural train of thought. It led me to realize how an innocent question about turbans can open the door to other insightful conversations.
Here’s what we chatted about while indirectly broadening his cultural worldview
- Awareness: While this particular turban was worn by a Sikh, we talked about the various different turbans we have seen, including the Mysore Peta that his dad wore for our wedding. It was such a spontaneous way to explain how one cloth can be worn in many different ways by many different people.
- Inclusion: We chatted about how the cloth worn by little sikh boys is called a ‘patka’. He mentioned that a boy in his class wore a patka but he didn’t know what it was called. He asked if all Sikhs wear patkas. Not necessarily, I said. It was their individual choice to make. We talked about how we should each be allowed to choose what we want to wear.
- Stereotypes and Prejudice: We talked about how Sikhs grow their hair long. He mentioned that sometimes the kids in his school make fun of boys who have long hair or girls who have short hair. I told him I remember being teased for having short hair as a girl. We talked about how the length of your hair does not matter. I asked him if he wanted to grow his hair. He said, “Maybe someday.”
- Cultural Understanding: He wanted to know why people wore turbans. I explained that for some people, it was a sign of their religion, like Sikhism. Others like farmers wear turbans to protect their head from the sun. Some people wear it as decoration.
- Asking Questions and Curiosity: It was amazing to see how one question led to another and another. By inviting his questions, I unconsciously created a safe space for him to feel comfortable expressing his thoughts and seeking understanding.
A simple conversation about turbans, laid the foundation for my son to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity, respect for others, and a willingness to learn about different backgrounds and beliefs. It’s amazing how powerful just one conversation can be.
Here is a little poem you can use, or get say together with you kid:
"A Turban is a cloth wrapped around my head,
With beautiful colours that spread
From Sikh to Muslim, you will find
A different meaning in every kind.
A crown that signifies grace and might
A symbol of faith, shining bright!"