Ludhiana’s businessman and social activist, Harjinder Singh Kukreja does scuba diving with full Turban in far-off Antalya, Turkey to generate respect for the turban and all other religious headgears.
It’s impossible! Well that’s what you would say. Of course, it is next to impossible! Most people would say. Not a Sikh and certainly not – Harjinder Singh Kukreja, the young Sikh from Punjab who travelled all the way to Istanbul and other parts of Turkey to enable the country to boost travel and tourism showcasing the multi-ethnic environment of the country. For him, the grand finale of his journey was a recreational scuba-dive with the full turban on, with waters and fish from the Mediterranean, sending a clear message that a life with a turban is a full life with no ifs, not buts and no hindrances. Undoubtedly, he became 1 Numara –the first Sikh to do so.
Antalya is the fifth-most populous city in Turkey, located on Anatolia’s flourishing south-west coast, bordered by the Taurus mountains on the Mediterranean coast.
The love, respect and openness showered on him by the Turkish people during his 7-day journey exploring Turkey in all its colours, is reflected from the fact that his visit was covered by 12 Turkish channels and he featured on CNN Turkey too. Social Entrepreneur and philanthropist Harjinder Singh Kukreja is always on the look-out for upholding the honour of the Sikh people and reaching out where no one has gone before. Representing the Sikhs at the World War 1 memorial in Belgium and at the installation of the bust of the First Sikh ruler -Maharaja Ranjit Singh in St. Tropez, France last year, Harjinder Singh Kukreja has taken on the mantle of experiencing and furthering the pristine glory and heritage of the Sikhs.
“Some time back, I did sky-diving with the full turban on, and now scuba diving. I love telling the world that this turban is my identity, this turban is no hindrance to anything that I want to do. The Sikhs respect their own Dastar or Pagri -Turban and the head-gears of all communities -the Hijab, the Kippah and the Dhukku -the colourful headgear of African men and women”, said Harjinder Singh Kukreja describing his adventure into the unknown, thousands of miles away in a modern Muslim society that welcomed his stay with open arms. “All headgear is respect for God too,” he further added.
Surrounded by 4 professional divers, breathing and walking underwater with the turban on, feeding the colourful variety of tropical fish of the Mediterranean and Aegean variety, this young Sikh carried a 32-kg helmet on his sky-blue turban which was so easily blending with the clear greenish-blue waters from the Mediterranean Sea.
Prior to takeoff back home from Istanbul, speaking to The World Sikh News on the phone, Harjinder Singh Kukreja said, “this was new exploration underwater, so I thought that in keeping with the Sikh tradition of Langar -community kitchen, why not take some food for the fish. Our Gurus have alluded to animal life of all varieties and it was an enjoyable and soul-satisfying experience feeding the fish.”
Jagmohan Singh, a Sikh activist and professor of English said, “Harjinder Singh Kukreja is the de facto ambassador of the Sikh people. His next destination may be a trip to the moon with his sky-blue turban on and like Neil Armstrong we would all be happily saying, “yet another small step for Kukreja, but one big leap for the Sikhs!”