Yesterday we enjoyed a sunny Saturday in the heart of Oslo, amidst thousands of people from a span of cultures and backgrounds, as we attended the Norwegian Turban Day. An alternative and very inclusive way to mark the Sikh’s new year Vaisakhi. Rather than celebrating it solely within the Sikh community, some bright young minds figured it to be a perfect occasion to build bridges between their religion and the general society, providing facts and myth-breaking of what Sikhism is and isn’t. And by now, this day has become a melting pot of more than 10.000 people celebrating together, embracing diversity and our multicultural society.
Having friends from all over the world, I must say I’ve always considered human beings as human beings, and I think it’s limiting our perspectives and experiences a lot if we generalize solely by group or background rather than getting to know and understandactual persons. But I also know that it lies in our nature to be sceptical towards and fear who and what we don’t know. Fear is what builds fractions and lack of trust, and an environment where populistic politicians can create a “us vs. them” scenario that harms all of us.
So when people in general don’t know enough about other cultures or religions, that gap creates so many unnecessary walls and barriers between us. And it still (often unconsciously..) affects the career opportunities and quality of life of many bright brains – as employers’ choices and view tend to be too narrow. This is a huge problem for our society both because we loose out on talents, and because we risk making people feel like outsiders or treated differently within ones own home country.
I wish we had more open festivals and celebrations across a span of the various religions and cultures here in Norway, that could create the same fundament for positive experiences and bridge-building, as part of the important work to strengthen our inclusive and open-minded society and create an environment where everyone can fit in and be treated with respect and dignity. I hope other religious communities and groups from various societies will follow this eminent model, and use our public arenas more actively to break silos and fuel trust & inclusion.
Already looking forward to the 2017 celebrations! Gooo Turban Day!!! 🙌☀️
Sikhism is a monotheistic faith founded on the principles of equality, freedom of religion, and community service. As the fifth-largest religion in the world, one of the core teachings of the Sikh tradition is that all Sikhs must cultivate spirituality while also serving the world around us. Sikhs, both men and women, cover their uncut hair with a turban which represents a commitment to equality and justice.Vaisakhi celebrates the culmination of a centuries-long journey, from the foundation of the faith in 1469, to ensure equality of all people — regardless of race, gender, faith, nationality, or any other identity.