The dastaar, turban worn by Sikhs may not be stylish choice for the young Sikhs anymore, but it used to be more than just a piece of cloth or cultural paraphernalia that covers the uncut, long locks atop their heads. It has immense spiritual significance and is regarded as a symbol of sovereignty, dedication, self-respect, courage and piety.
The Sikhs take their turbans very seriously and one Avtar Singh Mauni from Patiala has shown the world that he is ready to carry the weight of a child around all day long, for the prestige of wearing the largest turban in the world. The 60-year-old resident of the southeastern city of Patiala in Punjab, Mauni appears to have broken the current world record for turban size, thanks to 100 pounds worth of cloths, ornaments and weapons placed atop his head.
When unwrapped, Mauni claims, it stretches to 645 metres - almost the same length as 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools. If the numbers are verified, Mauni will break the existing Guinness record of Major Singh, a Nihang Sikh, whose turban measured 400 metre long and weighed around 77 pounds.
Mauni, judging by the weapons and jewellery woven into his turban, is also probably a member of the Nihang branch of the Sikhs, who were reputed warriors known for wearing oversized turbans and clothes in shades of electric blue.
Mauni did not always wear such an elaborate turban. In fact, he was the owner of a 151 metres, from which he gradually increased the length, reported the Huffington Post. He claims that wrapping the record-breaking turban, which weighs about 187 pounds (85 kilos), complete with weapons and ornaments takes about six hours every day.
Despite the weight, he wears the extra kilos proudly. "I don't consider it to be a burden. I feel like it is a lotus flower on my head," Mauni explains. He has transcended the earthly realm, he elaborates, claiming that he feels no discomfort, and misses the turban when it's not on his head.
He rides a motorbike to the Gurudwara daily, the only mode of transport that can accommodate his turban. He is an instant celebrity wherever he goes, although he would have preferred it if people talked to him rather than just stare. More often than not, observers aren't interested in deep conversation, he reveals.
"Photos, photos, photos," he says in a disappointed tone. This is the age of the camera phone. "It takes me six hours to tie my turban," Mauni laments. "And some people just click a photo and run away after a minute."