An Indian-origin American Gurinder Singh Khalsa, was among 16 recipients who were recently felicitated with the Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award from the Minority Business Magazine at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana.The Indian-American Entrepreneur was honoured for his campaign to persuade US authorities to change policy towards Sikh headgear.
Khalsa is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and as well as the founder and chairman of SikhsPAC. He is also the president and CEO of Sikhs MEDIA as well as a member of several boards and commissions.
Interestingly, Gurinder Singh Khalsa was not allowed to board an aeroplane in 2007 due to his refusal to remove the turban. He was traveling from Buffalo to Sacramento, Calif., when TSA officials attempted to send him through extra security measures for wearing a turban even though he didn’t set off any alarms, it said. When Khalsa would not remove his turban in the airport, he said he was taken away by security, it said.Determined to stand up for his faith and fight for justice, Gurinder Singh Khalsa took the issue all the way to the US Congress, compelling Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) to change its headgear policy towards the Sikh community. As a result, Sikhs can now wear their turban through airport security in the US.
Turban is a type of headgear based on cloth winding and wearing turbans is most common among the Sikh Community. There precise origin of Turban is unknown but there are references to Turban dating back almost 4,000 years from Mesopotamia and ancient India. Importantly, Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and last human guru of the faith initiated Khalsa and asked the members of Khalsa to maintain five articles of faith, referred to as the five Ks. The Turban (kesh: Uncut hair in Turban) is a part of five K.
According to Khalsa, leader in the Sikh community in Indiana, “I took this stand for all those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of faith. Tonight, this award is not about me. Change does not exist without the support of a community. I dedicate this award to more than 67,000 individuals from all walks of life across America, and to one of the largest Sikh advocacy group, Sikh Coalition. Without their countless efforts change in the TSA Turban policy would not exist…Turban is a beacon of hope, safety, and security for others and I wear it proudly with dignity and respect to the God. Today, I am humbled and honored to be the recipient 2019 Rosa Parks Trailblazer Award”.
Interestingly, the Indian American Sikh activist in Fishers, Indiana recently also announced his intention to run for city council in the midwestern town. Khalsa, is a native of Haryana, India, in Ambala village. Khalsahas also expressed his desire to invest in the very community that provided him with the same opportunities which have contributed to his success as a community leader.
A 14-minute film has been made by teenager Jenna Ruiz showing Khalsa’s experience when he was forcibly removed from the Buffalo International Airport for refusing to remove his turban during security screenings. Khalsa plays himself in the film. His 14-year-old son, Ajaypratap Singh, plays his younger version. The trailer for the film, which is expected to be released soon.