More than 500 people gathered at the Times Square in New York to celebrate Sikh holiday Vaisakhi by educating passers-by about the faith practiced by nearly 25 million in the world.
The event, titled Turban Day 2017 was organised by the Sikhs of New York - a group initiated by Chanpreet Singh in 2012 as a student club at Baruch College.
Sikh man shot by American man shouting 'go back to your own country'
Volunteers offered information about their faith to strangers while wrapping a turban around their head. At the end of which, they were free to ask any questions about Sikhism. The day ended with about 8, 000 turbans being tied.
The 24-year-old conceived the idea after realising that Sikhism was still an unfamiliar faith.
Due to their turban, Sikhs are often mistaken as Muslims or Arabs. A survey conducted in 2015 by the National Sikh Campaign revealed 60 per cent of Americans said they were unaware about Sikh Americans. It also found 20 per cent of Americans were likely to assume that Sikhs wearing turbans were Muslims while 28 per cent thought of them to be of Middle-eastern descent. Only 11 per cent correctly recognised them as Sikh.
US Army eases rules on beards, turbans for Muslim, Sikh troops
“I’ve been called names like terrorist, IS. I’ve heard things like ‘Go back to your country,’” he said. “All throughout high school and middle school.”
The turban-wearing men have been victims of discrimination and hate crimes - around 67 per cent in Massachusetts, Indiana, Washington and California claim to have been targetted for their head-gear.
“I take the fault on ourselves. We haven’t done enough to educate," said Singh.
This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ