Pin It
Thursday, March 31st, 2011

A Lion’s Mane: Story of the Sikh Turban

By
Multicultural-children's-literature

How often did the covers of the books you read as a child have children who looked like you? Did these children’s books offer you a sense of belonging or importance? As our children enter into such a global community, it is clear that having access to authentic literature representing their heritage can only help ease the numerous challenges of peer pressure and elevate self-esteem. Literature is perhaps the strongest avenue to enable us to realize our commonalities while teaching us about the idiosyncratic nature of one another.

 

This is why I am so excited about the children’s book that promises to be a staple on the shelves of young visionaries. A Lion’s Mane, published in August 2009 by Saffron Press, is written by Navjot Kaur and illustrated by Jaspreet Sandhu. The book encourages children to deepen their understanding of positive self-identity.

 

In this beautifully illustrated story, young readers journey to cultures around the world to explore the meaning of the Sikh dastaar, or turban. The dastaar is part of the visible identity of the Sikhs, which ensures a Sikh stands out in a crowd, therefore making Sikhs conscious of their personal actions and prepared to defend people in need. The dastaar is used as a metaphor throughout the story and represents nobility, guidance, wisdom and strength. Words like “respect,” “strong” and “loyalty” are written within the vibrant red dastaar on each page and help promote our connections as global citizens, encouraging dialogue around issues of identity.

 

Historically, the dastaar represents a steadfastness against social tyranny when Guru Gobind Singh ji created the Khalsa to stand up to a hierarchical society and break down caste system. Thus, the dastaar became a crown for Sikhs ensuring that a member of the Khalsa can be recognized in a crowd and will be accountable to the ideal of standing up against oppression and injustice.

 

This book moves beyond the traditional in several ways. It brings a global perspective to the often misidentified image of the Sikh turban. It is printed on 100% recycled paper as well as displaying an Eco-Libris badge—625 trees were planted for the first edition! In addition, a portion of proceeds from the sale of each book will support Seva Canada’s work to restore sight and prevent blindness in children. By shopping at Saffron Press, you are contributing to a green and ethical cause.

 

I spoke with the author of A Lion’s Mane, Navjot Kaur, about the book and the challenges she underwent to have this story published.

 

Tell us about why you wrote this story?

 

This has been quite a personal journey. The story of A Lion’s Mane began while on an extended leave from teaching to raise my son. After learning of my son’s hearing loss, a disability I had little, if any knowledge of, I became exposed to a whole new culture and the deaf community. My son’s identity became a part of every day conversation and great thought. Given the different respective avenues to consider after his diagnosis—a hearing or non-hearing world—we realized that hearing aids would become a large part of his already visible Sikh identity. I knew that a strong foundation would only strengthen his confidence and sense of who he is in the future. For my husband and I, that foundation meant a positive sense of his Sikh identity which would combine with his hearing-impaired identity, to give him every sense of ability—and the spirit of a true lion going forward. A Lion’s Mane is for the strength I see in him everyday to stand out and be different.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced in getting this book published?

 

The experience has been an insightful one. Traditional publishers prefer characters or images that fit the mainstream consumer, understandably given the current economic climate. The Sikh identity is not meant to fit in, it’s meant to stand out. I hope A Lion’s Mane does that and encourages dialogue around the issues of preconceived bias and stereotypes.

 

Speak to us about positive self-identity? Why is it important?

 

Children are flooded with information today. I believe in the power of media literacy, giving children the tools to sift through everything they see and hear to create their own opinions. Our identity is constantly being shaped by what we experience. If children are encouraged to talk about what they see, hear, and read, then I think we are contributing to a stronger, more compassionate and respectful global world.

 

What motivated you to go green with your book?

 

I have long embraced the values of alternative health care and living as chemical-free as possible. When considering this project, I had to remain true to myself, so going green was an integral decision. I believe it is very much a part of my Sikh identity—sarbat da bhalla going green with A Lion’s Mane is a small way of giving back to the environment we take so much from.

 

After reading this interview, now consider this: how important is diverse and multicultural literature on the shelves of every library and school? Did you or do your children have access to this type of literature?

 

© 2011 – 2013, Sundari. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law

A whole year of arguing in the making

The African Guide to Co-sleeping

10 must-read tips on co-sleeping from Africa

Don’t Touch My Child! Lessons from Asia

Has the West taken fear too far?

How Bilingualism Can Fail in Multilingual Families

It’s easy to raise bilingual kids when you speak a second language, right? Wrong.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sundari is a young Sikh woman, born and raised in England and now living in Central California. She is a community activist, global health and human rights advocate and an avid reader. She also writes for the progressive Sikh blog, The Langar Hall.

Leave us a comment!

1 Comment
  1. CommentsInCultureParent | My Son was Bullied for Looking Different   |  Monday, 11 March 2013 at 12:00 pm

    […] reaction was to educate the children about what the patka represents. So I shared the story of “A Lion’s Mane” with my son’s Kindergarten […]









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
[…] Peru, 97 percent of newborns are breastfed, according to LLLI. In Culture Parent reported that 69 percent of Peruvian children are breastfed exclusively from birth to five months, and ou...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Hi I was googling Islamic beliefs when I came across your post. We are American and our neighbors are from Pakistan I think. Our kids love playing together but their dad doesn't allow the kids to co...
From An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline
Mother’s Day is the most perfect and accurate Occasion to express your Love and Gratitude towards Mothe...
From Holi Craft: Straw Painting
[…] Muslims fast for 30 days every year for Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan this year is happening during most of the month […...
From Ramadan: June 28-July 28
[…] Raising a Little Buddha – Part 1, InCulture Parent — Post by a Buddhist Minister about raising an enlightened child.  It starts with intimacy, communication, and community. [R...
From How to Raise an Enlightened Child — Part I
[…] Breastfeeding in Jordan, InCulture Parent — Not as restrictive as one might think. […...
From Breastfeeding in Jordan
[…] Best and Worst Countries to be a Mother, InCulture Parent – “The 2010 Mothers’ Index rates 160 countries (43 developed nations and 117 in the developing world) in terms of th...
From Best and Worst Countries to be a Mother
[…] Why Americans Value Independent and Competitive Kids, InCultureParent — Interesting look at how our values impact our interactions with our children (babies in particular). […...
From Why Americans Value Independent and Competitive Kids
[…] Multiple Fathers and Healthier Children in the Amazon, InCulture Parent — a fascinating look at cultures in the Amazon where pregnant women have sex with more than one man as a means...
From Multiple Fathers and Healthier Children in the Amazon

More Multicultural Books, Etc.