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Viral Video with Whitehorse Mayor – The World Comes Together When Love Goes Viral

I do not believe my faith is better than yours and vice-versa.
~ Gurdeep Pandher

For me, a turban is a symbol of change. Let me make one point clear – I am not trying to make the whole world wear turbans or asking the entire world to embrace the Sikh faith. I do not believe my faith is better than yours and vice-versa. All faiths are great, equal and this means that yours is great and beautiful, too!

What I am doing is working towards acceptance and inclusiveness. I am working towards creating love and harmony within our communities. I am working towards tolerance. For example, when you see another person who has a different sense of style than you do, I believe that you should accept that person with an open heart and mind.

The turban is a medium with which I can share my belief in equality with the world.

If someone looks different than you do, please let your heart smile with the beautiful thought, “How cool and lovely is it that this person is different from me! We are all on our own path and everyone should be able to express self and beliefs through clothing and accessories, whether they have religious significance or not.”

This is the type of attitude which will lead to a healthier, safer and more wonderful world, for each one of us.

I have personally been penalized for choosing to wear the Turban as a symbol of my commitment to my faith. I’m well-educated and I have a range of skills to share with employers and co-workers.

Despite this, I’ve lost a lot of great opportunities because of my choice to wear the Turban. For example, one day in Whistler, my supervisor asked me to shave off my beard, even though wearing a beard had no impact on my ability to do my job effectively.

I refused, simply because I’m comfortable with how I look. I like myself! After I refused, he offered me alternatives to working at his company. He pushed me to quit. I didn’t, but work life became harder. More and more rules were imposed on me for no good reason. In time, I did have to leave. This is one example of several.

If you like the way that you present yourself to the world, why not accept and appreciate other people’s choices?

Skin colours, races, regions, religions, genders, age, disability, economic statuses, type of bodies, style of clothing, sexual orientations, borders, marital statuses, quantity of possession of materials, etc. – it is meaningless to separate people based on any, a few or all of these criteria.

I do believe that we may show pride and love for our respective cultures while crossing the walls and learning about each other’s cultures. While our cultures give us roots, other cultures keep us connected. We are all citizens of the universe.

Nothing should separate us as people. We are all human beings with equal value. Despite being different, we are all the product of one source. The different looks and styles just make the world more colourful and more beautiful, just like several colours of flowers look beautiful in one pot. The earth is our pot and we are flowers in different colors and shapes.

Imagine how boring the world would be without all these assorted hues and forms!

We are ONE human race. Period.

As fear is the primary root cause of hate in the world, and most fear is founded in lack of knowledge and understanding, learning about different cultures is the secret of becoming familiar. It’s the key to becoming more comfortable with other ways of life. This familiarity reduces fears and allows us get closer to other people. By learning constantly, with positive attitudes, and opening our minds and hearts, we may connect with others in a deep and meaningful way.

It is beneficial to learn things about the unknown and then remove any fears via   heightened understanding. I am sure that once you are familiar with another person who practices customs which are unknown to you, you will gain the capacity to walk forward together, holding hands.

After 9/11, Sikhs across the world, especially in the US, were subjected to racism due to their turbans. Many were killed too. Just because they were wearing turbans which had some resemblance to the headdresses worn by Bin Laden, these innocent and peaceful Sikhs became targets.

It makes me sad that people assumed the worst and never tried to learn about Sikhs. Sikhism is a different faith, from a different country, with totally a different history. Clearly, unfamiliarity and/or lack of education bred hate! Otherwise, so many precious lives would have been spared. Education was all that was needed.

The aftermath of 9/11 gave me even more reason to embrace the Turban as a powerful symbol of peace. It’s about using the Turban to spark more awareness and education.

I had the same experience in Whitehorse, Yukon, when someone called me Saddam Hussein. This bizarre encounter was hurtful to say the least and it inspired me to wear my turban even more often, with a mind to spreading awareness. Those people didn’t try to learn that Saddam Hussein was from Iraq, rather than my home country, India.

Saddam Hussein was Muslim and I’m a Sikh. We came from different continents -Saddam Hussein represented the Arabic world and I represent Asia. However, the mere presence of a turban on my head made it seem to the person who insulted me that I was representing Saddam and Osama. I would also like to make clear that, for me, Arabic or Muslim world is equally adorable, in the same way the other world is, and my point is not to create an animus towards Arabic or Muslim world. My main point is just to let people know that there is a huge difference between Arabic/Muslim world and my Sikh/Punjabi world from Punjab, India.

If this person had more familiarity with my culture and my faith, this offensive and misguided incident could have been avoided. The person who made the comment did not know that Sikhism was started about 600 years ago, in Punjab, India, by Guru Nanak and that equality, kindness and humanism are core elements of this faith.

Being compared to Saddam Hussein confirmed my opinion that more work needs to be done to make the world aware of my minority faith, which has so often been a subject of misidentification. This, and some other incidents, motivated me to spread awareness about my turban and I am glad that the turban has become a great symbol not only of awareness about the peaceful Sikh faith, but also about so many other things, such as love, harmony and equality.

Despite our different backgrounds and different looks, we can do things together, we can work together, we can play music together, we can dance together and we can form relationships together. All religions were created as guides to better and higher paths, so that we may become good people. However, all people from all religions sometimes forgot the purest essences of our chosen faiths. They were created in the spirit of love and peace and our personal interpretations may occasionally interfere with our interpretations of our faiths.

The sun gives the same light to everyone. Does it discriminate on basis of anything? Sunlight doesn’t need a visa to cross borders. The same applies to moonlight, water, air, and earth.

We can learn so much from nature. I must say that nature should be our supreme guiding god. The sun gives us all the same light with the same purpose. It is we as people who receive it differently. We cannot blame the sun if we do not want to choose the path of universal family.

At the end of the day, doesn’t matter, what the style of clothing is, everybody is just a fellow human being with the same feeling inside the heart.
~ Gurdeep Pandher

We need more love in the world to counteract hate. I do not think there is another tool which can defeat hate but love itself.

Just accept people the way that you accept yourself!

Life is a journey. Let’s understand the purpose of it all, which is universality and love, and then enjoy the experience of our great journey within the world, before we all depart for the spiritual realm.

This experience of love through learning is why we are here…we are not here to hate!

A smile is the best gift that you may offer to the world around you! So, why not open up your world by learning different cultures and embracing different things? Share your culture and faith to create understanding and to breed joy. However, avoid forcing it on other people. Love your culture and faith without forgetting love for other cultures and faiths! Also, be open to learning and receiving via other cultures and faiths! Let all the colours around you make the world look like a priceless masterpiece by a legendary artist. It’s all about your attitude.

At the end of the day, doesn’t matter, what the style of clothing is, everybody is just a fellow human being with the same feeling inside the heart.

I am happy that with my video, which features Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis learning the art of wearing the turban and trying some bhangra dance steps, has gone viral. Thanks to this video, I reached 20 million people (12 million on BBC News, 1.2 million from my Facebook page Facebook/GurdeepPandher and the rest from other networks across the world)!

It has been fulfilling to spread this message of love and acceptance. I am thankful to the world media, including BBC News, BBC World Service, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Service), The Globe and Mail, Global News, The Huffington Post (Canada), CTV News, USA Today, SBS Australia, Mic, Toronto Star, Canadian Press, RT (formerly Russia Today), Quartz Media, Religion News Service, Reuters News Agency and many other publishing/broadcasting services.

These media sources have my gratitude, for publishing my work, supporting and spreading my message and giving me a voice which assists me in sharing my vision for humanity with the world.

World media organizations…I am truly thankful to you for reaching out to me! I am also truly thankful to many other organizations, such as Canadian embassies and human-rights organizations, for helping me to spread this valuable message of diversity.

I am ending my article with my poem:

Let me preserve all my sanity
Let my race be humanity

Millions of stars, but one universe
I’m a your part, still being diverse

Not body or dress, look into my eyes
In tiny mirrors, same laughs same cries

Hug me and let me hug you back
The source of fears, we can trace

One source, one journey, and one end
Flowers in a pot, let them blend


Gurdeep Pandher





1 thought on “Viral Video with Whitehorse Mayor – The World Comes Together When Love Goes Viral

  1. Great article, Gurdeep! The world can learn so much from it.

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