We first noticed Aman when she liked Raw Women’s facebook page. We were so intrigued by the fact she was wearing a turban that we approached her to find out why.
Who we met was a strong young Sikh married to a proud young man, Jaswinder. We also found out that she is writer. So we asked her this question.
Who are you Aman and why do you, a woman, wear the Turban?
This was her reply.
Moving to Melbourne was the toughest decision of my life. Here I was at twenty two years old, comfortable with my age and with my choice of marrying the best man I knew. Every time I met an old friend, or a distant relative I had to apologetically recite the reasons for not having the common, large Indian wedding that was expected of me. I wasn’t really sorry though; after all the wedding was about me and my husband and what we wanted for our ‘big day’.
Living in Sydney in the heart of the Sikh community, where the Gurdwara* was only minutes away, I had grown up used to the familiarity of running into familiar faces all over town. Non-Sikhs were more accustomed to either pass me by silently, or more commonly with a stare or under the breath sneer. I had learned to ignore the western world and look up to the mothers and sisters in the Sikh community who eventually held my hand and led me, as I willingly became a baptised Sikh at the age of twenty two.
Marriage followed in 2013 where it led to many adventures and the largest being the big move from Sydney to 900kms away in Melbourne. This rocked my world. Here I quickly noticed how alienated I felt, being unattached to the Sikh community and only knowing a few distant family members or friends of friends, I had to come to terms with my reliance of connections I had back in Sydney. As I spent a year of my life adjusting to the new culture, my new relationship status and a new home, I began to explore a lot on my own. Melbourne was beautiful. The People were beautiful.
I would never associate the following terms with myself: powerful, strong, feminist, influential and inspirational. However here I mention them because this is what I heard over and over. People began to approach me in the streets, cafes, libraries, museums, parks and every corner of Victoria. They asked me who I was. From the beginning- the question startled me. This situation had rarely occurred in Sydney. No one cared who I was or why I wore the dastar on my head. So I began to develop a new script to recite. What shall I tell these strangers? ‘I am a Sikh. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a student.’ I had no idea what I could say and how much time of theirs I could steal. I wanted to tell them about my religion more than anything else, and I realised this led back to redefining who I was. As a female Sikh wearing a dastar was uncommon. In Victoria a larger state than Sydney and with fewer turbaned Sikh women I realised I was given a role to play. I had to inform these people that I had made the decision to stand out as a Sikh woman to demand my rightful place as an equal beside men. To wear my crown as they do, and represent not only Sikhism but my gender. The most common statement I heard back was, “You don’t see many girls with turbans.” I replied with a simple answer about fashion, makeup, not removing any natural hair off my body and how for women these elements were hard to give up or alter. Even in India.
Wearing a dastar never limits me. I am a woman and never misidentified for anything else. I am a walking icon for my religion; this is a lot of responsibility. Coming to Melbourne helped to redefine myself, to find strength from within and reinvigorated my determination to improve myself entirely. I am told I’m strong and inspirational but I don’t feel that way just yet. Who I am is something I will always re-evaluate, one aspect of who I am does not explain me. I am a combination of many great things and for now- I am a resilient woman. I am young wife. I am an active feminist. I am a devout Sikh. I am Aman!
*Gurdwara: Sikh place of worship