It has become a common phenomenon for immigrants from all walks of life to get into Canada either legally or illegally. They are mainly attracted by the belief that Canada is full of opportunities most of which would elevate their status in the society. The majority of these immigrants come from developing countries with strong cultural backgrounds. While they get attracted to the opportunities in Canada, they are oblivious of the demands to be met before acquiring such opportunities; the great challenge of changing culture adopting the new way of life.
The Indians cherish their culture so much, and they believe in wearing Turbans as a sign of respect. While they came into Canada, they were viewed as the new workforce that would help propel the economy of the country to a greater level. What they did not explain was that these people had to abandon their culture to be able to work. The Indians, for instance, had to shave their long hair and put away their turbans to be able to secure jobs. The change in ways of life was given priority before even qualifications and papers. Shauna Singh Baldwin, in his words, says that:
They say I could have a job if I take off the turban and shave my hair short.'
It is so sad that during the time of shipment of people from India they were not informed that they would be required to convert to a new culture. It is a fact that most people would quickly change to secure jobs that are in plenty in this new Canaan, Canada. A land was full of opportunities for immigrants.
The big question is, Would an Indian abandon his/her culture to reap the goodies of Canada? First, it is a fact that the Canadians did not understand even the basics of the Indian culture. For instance, the Indians undergo a lot of trouble while seeking Laundry services. They have to explain all the regalia to the person operating the laundry. This could have been the reason as to why the Canadians had low regards for the turbans and the Indian culture. Someone would have wondered if there was a need for the Canadians to study the Indian culture before they could consider working and staying with them. In fact, it is widely known that before you live with anyone you should understand them to avoid unnecessary rubbing of shoulders. Take, for example; the Canadians are confused as to whether to refer to the Indian Turbans as towel or bedsheets or shawls. This is somehow an insult to the Indians since they greatly cherish these head gears and would expect their neighbours to treat them with great respect.
The turban is a symbol of loyalty and respect in the Indian society. Any mature Indian should have the headwear wherever they go to show how respectable they are in their families. Moreover, it indicates that they are loyal to their culture and families. Telling them to remove the turbans to be employed is like showing them the path to disloyalty. Which Indian would accept to follow that path? Who would agree to throw away all their childhood beliefs to get money which is perishable? The truth is, only people without morals would do that but Indians had their morals intact.
The harassment that Indians undergo while seeking various services is mainly due to the little knowledge Canadians had about them. At this point, Canada just like any other country in history was more focussed on economic empowerment and wealth gain. Just like a wise man once said, need for wealth kills a man. The Canadians were killed inwardly such that they could not feel the Indians. They had put money before anything else and had no time for other people. This is what other philosophers would have called inhumanity, but I chose to call it madness mainly because it is only mad men who never understand their surroundings.
The Turban did not just act as an identity regalia. Yes, it is true that you would quickly identify an Indian from people of other races by merely looking at their headwear. In this case, there is so much hidden in the Turban more than just a mark of identity. The Indian man in the Shauna Singhs story faces a test of fidelity. Here was the test, remove your turban, cut your hair short then we give you a job. Well, this looked simple just like reciting A, B, C, D, E, and the entire alphabet in the African kindergarten schools. Simple as it seemed to be, it was a matter of life and death to married man and most importantly, a man who had children.
To put this into perspective, a family man was the role model for the entire family, and the wife and kids would look up to him with regards to what they should do at home and while away from home. This was a great role, and every mans wish is to be the best example to their children. Preservation of the family culture is the duty that the person is assigned in the Indian society. This role is not achieved by words of mouth by real actions. Commonly, children would only do what they see others or their parents do and so was the case with the Indian society.
Though it would be considered as a sign of weakness by some people, others would view it as a sign of love; the Indian man had the responsibility of tying the wifes turban every morning. Well, this was not just because he loved the woman, but, it was because he had a duty of being extremely loyal to her and the culture and this was one of the ways to show the loyalty. In his words, he says;
And so, my love, I will not let you cut your strong rope of hair and let you go into this land of strangers without turbanmy hands will tie a turban every day upon your head
The man agrees to toil and moil in the odd jobs instead of getting a respectable job only because he cannot throw away his culture for the sake of the job. Yes, he is qualified for a good job, but the society in Canada does not permit someone like him to get such jobs lest he changes his culture. Gentle as he was, this man sticks to his turban and long hair because it is only through this that he can be identified as an Indian and not a Canadian. It is only through his turban that his children can have a birth father and the wife can find a faithful husband. In conclusion, therefore, the big deal in the turban is loyalty and culture preservation.
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