Tur­baned Sikh scuba-dives in An­talya, Turkey

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!”