Making its way through social media today is a website called Patka Spotting. According to the website:
Patka Spotting was created for the sole purpose to shout out all the guys in our community who are just too old to be wearing children’s patka’s around and about.
A patka is the head-covering commonly worn by Sikh children — mainly boys — before they adopt the full turban as adults. Much like a bandana, a patka is a small piece of cloth that is easy to tie, which makes it purposeful for children. While the expectation is that a boy ties a full turban as he progresses to manhood, there has been an increasing tendency for males to retain the patka throughout their adult lives, to the dismay of many in our community.
For many of these young men, the retention of the patka can reflect an insecurity about changing their head-covering. As children, many of us who wore patkas growing up in the west have been exposed to significant teasing and trauma, and the conversion to the full turban to make the head-covering again an object of attention can resurrect that trauma.
Tying a turban correctly and in a way that the wearer is comfortable, and then stepping out into the world of public judgement is a large adjustment. It was for me when I adopted the full turban at the age of 16. Sarcastically shaming these young men on an internet website is nothing more than internet bullying, and such a website will push young men away from tying anything on their heads rather than inspire our youth to don our full sacred article of faith.
For the person/people behind this website to exploit this insecurity in this way, in my mind, is embarrassing and not reflective of how a Sikh should behave. If the objective of Patka Spotting is to promote the adoption of the full turban, the public shaming and sarcastic nature of the site does nothing to fulfill its mission. There is certainly a much better approach — using compassion and leadership — than this immature attempt to encourage our youth.
Let me also point out that while the website puts up pictures that barely protects a person’s privacy (a black strip across the eyes of those pictured does not make them anonymous), the individuals behind the site have hidden their identities while they poke fun at other people. Even more distasteful is that the website seeks to sell advertising based on its public humiliating of unsuspecting young men. This is highly inappropriate behavior.
If the point of Patka Spotting is to encourage young men to adopt the full Sikh turban and promote our religious practices, it has failed in that regard and objectionably so.
It takes guts to wear a pagh for a Sikh man and similarly it takes just as much guts to continue wearing a patka even when they become grown men. It’s bad enough when ignorant non-Sikhs make fun of it but it becomes worse when those who wear paghs make mockery of patka wearing Sikhs. Instead of encouraging, it will drive them away. Since when did their become a heirachy of pagh wearing? Who are we to define what Sikh men should wear or not. At least they still wear a patka and anyone who does know anything about Sikhi would still be able to identify them as a Sikh. There are better ways of promoting the pagh and this is just not one of them. All it will do is make those who are already self-concious non-pagh wearers move far away from ever considering it. To wear a pagh, comes in steps.
Anyway, I believe it’s the same person who runs the @punjabiproblems twitter account. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I was following this account until recently due to a number of comments from them that I found distasteful (such as only Punjabi girls being beautiful and something in relation to hating being called a Muslim as though being Punjabi is a more important religion than Sikhi yet often brings Sikhi into the posts). The reason I believe it is them is because in their description (which has now been changed, alas I wish I had a screen-shot of it), they had written something across the lines of… “follow our sister account, @patkaspottings.” Since a numerous amount of comments have come up in relation to the website, the twitter account description has reverted back to it’s original and taken off promoting @patkaspottings in it’s description however it still has a few retweets in its twitter line of patkaspottings and encouraging to promote it. Seems as though @punjabiproblems has lost site of Sikhi.
Thank you for your comment. For the record, I am not interested in specifically who is behind the site, but I do object to individuals who maintain their own anonymity while posting mocking pictures of others online. Frankly, it stinks of cowardice and hypocrisy.
If we are going to set up websites over every perceived transgression that Sikh people make in relation to their faith, there would not be enough space on the internet to harbor all the photos. Let us encourage each other along the path and not be so vindictive, childish and counter-productive.
Your last sentence is very symbolic. Perhaps losing sight of what Sikhi teaches us is indeed a “punjabiproblem.”