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.